Private schools getting more public dollars

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has a great article on the expansion of vouchers in Ohio, and what that means for the public schools affected. This year Ohio has expanded eligibility to 30,000 students, with further expansion to 60,000 next year.

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia direct about $1 billion a year in public money to private schools through voucher or tax credit programs, according to ASCD. The nonprofit organization, which develops resources for educators, ranks Ohio fourth in the amount provided, after Florida, Louisiana and Wisconsin.

Current Ohio voucher programs are limited by geography, and income, but that can change

There is also support for even more growth in vouchers. Rep. Matt Huffman, a Lima Republican, is championing a bill still in the legislature that would award private-school tuition vouchers of up to $4,626 to families based on their household incomes -- with no geographic restriction and no requirement that students come from failing public schools.

The vouchers have a crippling financial effect on the public schools who lose these students, the Euclid district lost 544 students to vouchers on top of 1,067 students to independently operated charter schools. There are further pernicious effects

Another twist that hurts: Students can keep their vouchers through high school, even if their public schools improve and get off the EdChoice list. So, Euclid High School ultimately may be affected even though it's never been on the list.

As for the quality of education these students who transfer to private schools at the expense of public school students, the results are suspect

Research done so far on voucher programs across the country - including Ohio -- has failed to show that they lead to better academic achievement, according to a report released last month by the Washington-based Center on Education Policy, a group that advocates for public education.

Ohio recently started requiring that EdChoice and Cleveland voucher students take state tests to gauge their performance in private school. Early data suggests that their public school counterparts often did better.