Parents choose public education

That's a headline you won't see in the Columbus Dispatch anytime soon, but if recent evidence is any guide, that's exactly what parents have done when it comes to Ohio's voucher expansion boondoggle.

Interest from Ohio parents has been light as the state expands its offer for vouchers that allow children to move from low-performing public schools and into private schools.

The state budget signed by Gov. John Kasich at the end of June more than doubled the number of taxpayer-funded vouchers available for the new school year under what's formally known as the EdChoice Scholarship Program. The state will provide as many as 30,000 scholarships, an increase from the previous cap of 14,000 vouchers, which are worth up to $5,000 each.

1,575. That's how many of the additional 16,000 vouchers have been applied for. Proponents of this expansion argued that there was massive pent up demand from parents to move their children out of public education and into the private sector, but the 14,000 cap was trapping them. In fact, so pent up wa the demand that next year the cap is increased again to 60,000 vouchers!

Now the excuse seems to be that they need more "marketing", that parents aren't aware. If parents aren't aware, how was there ever any pent up demand? As we reported earlier, research has demonstrated that vouchers do not have a strong effect on students academic achievement.

Since 2000, more evidence has accumulated about the impact of vouchers on student test scores, particularly from longer-term studies of the publicly funded voucher programs inMilwaukee, Cleveland, and D.C. [...], these studies have generally found no clear advantage in academic achievement for students attending private schools with vouchers.

The rhetoric used to support voucher programs has shifted, with some proponents giving less emphasis to rationales based on achievement and more emphasis to arguments based on graduation rates, parent satisfaction, and the value of choice in itself.

If Ohio's experiment with expanding vouchers is any guide, parents are choosing public education over privatization, despite what million dollar education privatization advocacy campaigners at School Choice Ohio would have us believe.

Maybe we ought to listen to Ohio's parents and invest in struggling public schools instead of syphoning away scarce resources for an experiment few seem interested in.