Ohio Legislature Expands School Voucher Program

Ohio lawmakers approved another school voucher program this summer, significantly expanding on the 10-year-old program in Cleveland.

In late July, Education Week reported that Republican Gov. Bob Taft signed into law the Ohio Educational Choice Scholarship Pilot Program, which will provide vouchers of up to $5,000 to as many as 14,000 students who attended poorly performing public schools.

The program is separate from the one that has been operating in Cleveland for a decade. In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris that the Cleveland plan did not run afoul of the First Amendment principle of church-state separation.

The Ohio Federation of Teachers blasted the new law as a serious blow to the state’s public education system.

“Handing out tax-funded tuition vouchers will drain more funds from hard-pressed public school districts,” said Tom Mooney, the group’s president.

Mooney also cited research debunking the arguments that the Cleveland voucher program would improve students’ education. “Legislators are ignoring the research to create a program that does not improve achievement,” he said.