Action Alert: Urge your Ohio Senator to Oppose expansion of school vouchers

The Ohio Senate has not finalized its school funding plan, and we need to persuade them not to expand school vouchers that take public funding away from public, accountable schools and redirect it to private schools that are not publicly accountable.

Look up your Senator here: http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/
On Tuesday, the Ohio Senate introduced its version of the state budget. However, the new budget did not include the Senate’s plans for education funding, which they said will be introduced next week. That means we need to act this week to convince the Ohio Senate not to expand the unaccountable school voucher program. The House version of the budget included an expansion of vouchers, and we have an opportunity to convince the Senate not to do the same.

BILL: State Budget Bill – in the Senate

ACTION NEEDED:
Contact your Ohio Senator and urge him/her to oppose expanding voucher provisions in the state budget bill. They should not be included in the Senate’s plan for education funding.

BACKGROUND:
The House version of the budget includes expanding the number of vouchers available.

TALKING POINTS:
• No accountability and no standards: Private schools that accept public voucher funds are not required to participate in Ohio’s accountability system for schools and be ranked along with other schools, or comply with all state education standards including academic, performance, and operating standards.
• No transparency: Private schools that receive public voucher funds are not required to “open their books” to ensure that public funds are being spent to serve a public purpose.
• Takes funds away from public schools that already face shrinking budgets: Expanding vouchers would divert limited state funds to participating private schools at a time when school districts are struggling to balance budgets and save education programs. Expanding vouchers could obligate the State to expend public funds for children currently attending private and parochial schools whose parents never contemplated enrolling them in public schools. This at the same time that traditional public schools are being forced to make tough choices like cutting the quality of their education programs, laying off teachers, and asking voters to increase local taxes in order to makes ends meet. (See “Survey shows: Ohio shrinks its schools”, Policy Matters Ohio, April 29, 2013, available at http://www.policymattersohio.org/district-survey-apr2013)
• Violates voter intent: When voters in a school district support a school tax levy for their public schools, they should have confidence that the funds are going to be used for that purpose and not redirected to private schools that are not accountable to voters.
• Not accountable to an elected board of education: Private schools that receive public voucher funds are not responsive or accountable to elected boards of education. Unlike an elected board of education that must answer to the voters of that district, private schools’ governing authority does not represent the taxpayers or citizens of a local community. Elected boards of education serve as a link to the community and build understanding and support for tax proposals to support the operation of the schools and their education programs. On the other hand, the governing authority of a private school represents the private interests of the school.

Please contact your Senator -- Look up your Senator here: http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/

HELP LWVO TRACK YOUR ADVOCACY EFFORTS

We want to know how responsive members are to action alerts and how many calls are made to the Ohio House and Ohio Senate. If you take the action suggested, please let the state office know. Drop us an e-mail at leg@lwvohio.org.

The League of Women Voters of Ohio, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.