HB136 The Privatize Public Education Bill

HB 136 pass out of the House Education committee yesterday 12-10, a party line vote with just one Republican voting no. But what is HB 136?

The bill replaces the ʺEd Choiceʺ and "Cleveland Scholarship" voucher programs, and replaces them with a voucher program instead based on family income, and calls it the "Parental Choice and Taxpayer Savings Scholarship Program" or ʺPACTʺ.

So it's a statewide voucher program with the amount of the voucher deducted from a studentʹs school district, with no limit on the number of PACT vouchers that can be awarded. Of course these vouchers can be used at any eligible nonpublic school.

So here we have a bill that allows unlimited amounts of money to be taken from any school district and sent directly to private institutions, effectively gutting public education for the majority of citizens students, The Governor and the Department of Education must have some thoughts on this? Gongwer

Speaker Batchelder, an architect of the Cleveland Voucher Program, said he has yet to review the final version of the measure, which won't be taken up by the full House until at least next week.

"It's had a lot of deliberations" in committee, he said. "It's a very important bill."

Nevertheless, the speaker said he would "have to see if the administration, which is going to come forward with a new plan on primary and secondary (education), whether they're friendly, unfriendly or what."

"I have not talked with the state superintendent either at this point, so I think we have a little more work to do while it's in Rules (Committee)."

Rob Nichols, spokesman for Gov. John Kasich, said the governor strongly believes in school choice but has not taken a public stance on the measure. ODE also said it has no formal opinion.

How can a bill the effectively provides the means to privatize public education have had a "lot of deliberations" if the Governor, ODE, and State Superintendent not taken any position?

Greg Mild at Plunderbund walks through just one scenario to highlight how destructive this bill would be

If a parent in Dublin finds a private school, enrolls their child, and receives the HB136 funding, the Dublin City School district suffers a net loss of $3,757. Doesn’t sound too bad in isolation, does it? Well, keep going….

Assuming Dublin parents can find private schools to take their children, this could continue until every student has taken their private tuition money out of the Dublin pool and the entire district is privatized. Except that would be impossible because the pool of money can’t sustain the model in the legislation. Honestly, it’s just basic arithmetic at this point.

District funds remaining: $12,089,366
[Divided by] private tuition voucher: $4,626
[Equals] Number of vouchers available for funding: 2,613
Number of total students in Dublin City Schools: 13,910
So, after student number 2,613 has taken their tax money and run, I’m left with two questions for the “financial experts” down at the Statehouse:

Who pays for number 2,614?
Who funds the remaining 11,000+ students?

As Greg notes, HB136 would destroy a public school that is graded excellent with distinction and leave over 10,000 students out in the cold.

Here's the LSC synopsis of HB136, you'll note we haven't even touched upon the education savings accounts aspect to the bill.

HB136 Synopsis