HB136 is dead. But a watered down version is likely to reappear in the form of another bill, or tucked quietly inside a bigger bill dealing with the new school funding formula. That was the message delivered by it's sponsor Rep Matt Huffman at a news conference yesterday.
"The practical effect is that not a lot of students from that district will use them," he acknowledged.
Huffman also said he'll limit the number of available vouchers to 1 percent of the home district's enrollment, which is roughly how many he expected would participate.
Statewide, that would be up to 17,000 students - far fewer than would have been possible in the original version of the bill.
He also will change the eligibility guidelines, tying them to the income levels that qualify children for state health coverage. And he will eliminate a provision that would have allowed families to spend unused voucher money on private high schools or college.
We'd speculate that it is unlikely that this new framework would appear in a bigger bill dealing with the funding formula. With over 300 school districts continuing to oppose this privatization plan in any form, a funding formula bill having its own issues, is not going to be a welcoming place for a contentious piece of legislation to be tucked inside.
Whatever the final form and function of this privatization proposal, it remains a terrible policy to transfer public monies to private schools at the expense of the majority of students. Even more so in light of recent revelations of ODE's inability to perform its basic oversight and accountability functions of private schools already receiving tax dollars.