School voucher abuse in Ohio

School vouchers in Ohio, used to allow families to send their children to private schools to “escape” troubled public schools, were recently expanded statewide (previously the program was only offered in Cleveland). With the expansion comes word of a trend that concerned the Ohio Department of Education enough to send out letters to public school districts.

The Columbus Dispatch reported today that it seems some parents of children who currently attend private school are enrolling their children in those troubled public schools so they can get a voucher to pay for the private school they attend. Those who already attend private schools or are home schooled are not eligible to get vouchers.

Since the statewide voucher initiative, called the Ohio EdChoice Scholarship program, was created last year, the department has been clear that students currently enrolled in private schools or home-schooled can’t participate.

But it’s unclear what “enrolled” means.

The Education Department says students must have actually attended the troubled school β€” one rated Academic Watch or Academic Emergency β€” during the current year to be considered enrolled. “Watch” is the same as a D in the state ratings; “emergency” is the same as an F.

The law doesn’t say how long students must have been enrolled or if they physically had to attend the school.

Rules do allow students to participate if they are entering kindergarten or attend charter schools but would have been assigned to a troubled school.

Vouchers abused, state says (06/07/06) subscription req to view full article

The other issue with vouchers, and why this topic is on this blog, is that a vast majority of private schools are owned and operated by religious groups. Vouchers are a way for government to give tax money to religious groups without violating the 1st amendment. Vouchers also take money away from struggling schools which can make the issue that allowed for vouchers in the first place that much worse and lets legislatures ignore fixing the problems.

See also:

School Scam Costing Taxpayers Money


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