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ICYMI Public school leaders rally against private school voucher program

Posted on: February 18, 2020
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Journal-News: Public school leaders rally against private school voucher program

In this article, Journal-News Staff Writer Michael D. Clark reports on the latest version of EdChoice vouchers and local educators’ criticism of the proposed expansion. On Friday, February 14, 2020, “more than 80 superintendents, school board members, district officials and school administrators from Butler, Warren and Hamilton County held their second, joint press conference in less than 30 days.” Clark shares out thoughts from both public and private school leaders. 

Listen to Middletown parent Julie Gibbs speak against expanding EdChoice

Public school leaders rally against private school voucher program
February 15, 2020
By Michael D. Clark, Journal-News Staff Writer

“Public school leaders from three area counties, including almost every Butler County district, came together Friday to blast the recent expansion of private school vouchers as a ‘shell game’ using tax dollars… 

“More than 80 superintendents, school board members, district officials and school administrators from Butler, Warren and Hamilton County held their second, joint press conference...to sharply criticize the latest version of EdChoice vouchers, saying it remains unfair and financially damaging to public schools… 

“Mike Holbrook, superintendent of Hamilton Schools, described the newly expanded EdChoice vouchers as being funded with public school tax money approved by local school residents to fund their neighborhood public schools and not private schools… 

“[Holbrook] said state lawmakers must find a voucher plan ‘that does not take monies away from public schools.’... 

“But, he added, ‘if the legislature determines vouchers are good policy … then we simply ask the legislature to pay for them and end the shell game being played with locally voted tax dollars and state dollars.’... 

“Moreover, said Holbrook, any new plan must also require all schools that accept vouchers ‘be held to the same accountability standards as public schools,’ which under law must admit all students, use only certified teachers and are graded each year by the state on dozens of academic and other criteria not required of private schools… 

“But Blane Collison, principal of private Fenwick High School, said private school families also pay local public school taxes… 

“‘While I understand public schools wish not to have monies taken away from them, non-public schools desire to also be the recipient of education funding provided by the state,’ said Collison… 

“‘...Parents choosing non-public school for their child’s education, should not preclude them from receiving educational benefits and monies that best meet their child’s needs,’ he said… 

“Private school parents ‘are tax payers too, and should be entitled to a portion of the monies provided by the state from tax dollars.’... 

“And the principal of private Badin High School in Hamilton – Brian Pendergest – complained the two-month delay in the application window for EdChoice is hurting his school and limiting the choices of school families… 

“‘The decision to delay the window for applying for EdChoice has put everyone involved in limbo. More importantly, the delay negatively impacts families as they try to determine where their children will go to school. Parents have the right to determine the best educational option for their child and they are unable to due to the delay,’ [Pendergest] said… 

“But Michael Berding, president of the Fairfield Board of Education, said the recently expanded EdChoice program is ‘class warfare and pilfering tax dollars.’... 

“‘If a private school accepts EdChoice vouchers, then they should be forced to take all students that apply,’ said Berding… 

“‘Please contact your legislators today and tell them you want equitable school funding by ending the EdChoice scholarship expansion,’ he said.”

What can you do to help? Contact your state legislators. 

Senator Matt Huffman
614-466-7584
Matt.Huffman@ohiosenate.gov 

Senator Bill Coley
614-466-8072
Bill.Coley@ohiosenate.gov 

Senator Lou Blessing III
614-466-8068
Lou.Blessing@ohiosenate.gov 

Senator Steve Wilson
614-466-9737
Steve.Wilson@ohiosenate.gov 

Senator Cecil Thomas
614-466-5980
Cecil.Thomas@ohiosenate.gov 

Rep. Sara Carruthers
614-466-6721
Sara.Carruthers@ohiohouse.gov 

Rep. Candice Keller
614-466-5094
Candice.Keller@ohiohouse.gov 

Rep. George Lang
614-466-8550
George.Lang@ohiohouse.gov 

Rep. Paul Zeltwanger
614-466-6027
Paul.Zeltwanger@ohiohouse.gov 

Rep. Cindy Abrams
614-466-9091
Cindy.Abrams@ohiohouse.gov 

Rep. Bill Seitz
614-466-8258
Bill.Seitz@ohiohouse.gov