Back in 2011 I analyzed Ohio’s EdChoice voucher program and determined that 93% of the vouchers were being used at private schools with a religious affiliation. A new analysis by the Cleveland Plain Dealer shows that number may have jumped to 97%.
Donald Trump has proposed increasing spending on school vouchers in his budget, a plan fully supported by Betsy DeVos, his Education Secretary. DeVos and Trump both attended private schools as children and neither have any experience with actual public schools or with education policy.
Our analysis from 2011 showed that there were only three secular private high schools in Ohio that accepted EdChoice vouchers, and they were in Trumbull, Lorain and Clark counties. If you were a high school student and wanted to use a voucher for a non-religious school in another county, you were out of luck.
In 2017, not much has changed. A quick look at the list of the 473 schools now accepting EdChoice vouchers shows that 74 have the word “Saint” in their name, 111 have the word “Christian”, 12 “Bishop”, 31 “Lutheran”, 17 “Holy”… you get the point.
State Senator Matt Huffman recently introduced a bill ( SB 85 ) that would provide nearly-universal voucher coverage across Ohio, allowing families of four who make up to $96,000 a year to receive vouchers up to $7,500 to send their kids to private schools. The bill would expand the voucher program to families living anywhere in the state, not just in poorly performing school districts, effectively allowing every family already sending their kids to religious schools to do so for free, on the state’s dime.
This could cost the state up to $133 million per year according to the LSC analysis.