Ohio voucher proposal

Ohio Gov. Bob Taft wants to give $3,500 vouchers to students in schools where at least two-thirds of students have failed to meet state math and reading standards for three years in a row. Currently, 71 schools meet that description.

Michael Meckler analyzes the plan.

The vouchers, each valued at up to $3500, could be used only at “chartered, non-public schools” and must be accepted as full compensation for school tuition for the year. The public school district would have its state funding cut by the amount of voucher money used by students in the district.

Not all that many private schools in Ohio are “chartered”, primarily because such schools face additional bureaucratic regulations and accountability procedures. In the Cleveland voucher program, most of the “chartered” private schools are Catholic schools whose centralized and experienced administration is able to handle these additional requirements. If expanded statewide, it is anticipated that Catholic schools, along with a few other Christian schools and some start-up non-religious schools, would be the only private schools able to afford to educate students at the state’s reimbursement rate.

Cleveland’s voucher students perform only slightly better than non-voucher students after four years, despite starting out with higher scores, Meckler writes. But parents prefer the learning environment at private schools.

In the later study, safety and discipline were primary reasons cited by Cleveland parents for using vouchers to send their children to private schools. In other words, according to objective measures such as test scores, private schools did not outperform public schools. Yet parents were more concerned that their children spend their days in an orderly, secure environment than with how much learning was actually taking place.

Order is not a frill for low-income parents. Many live in fear that their teen-agers will be recruited into gangs; they want a school that will teach an alternative to street values.

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  1. superdestroyer says:

    It would be nice if the original columnist would have supplied a few numbers.

    1. How many students would receive vouchers under the system.

    2. How many seats are there in “chartered” schools that cost less than $3500 and do not require students to participate in fund raising.

    3. How many of the student eligibile for the vouchers live close enough to the chartered schools to make attendence a possibility?

  2. Don’t get your knickers in a twist about this particular program, supe. If it’s being fairly reported it would properly be called the “unvoucher” program. Between the size of the vouchers and the attendent requirements, there shouldn’t be much utilization no matter the desires of parents.

  3. I’m confused about something in the article. Everything (or almost) I’ve read indicates that the Catholic run schools consistently deliver better results than public schools. Most of the ‘chartered, non-public’ schools are Catholic. Yet, according to the article, the private schools don’t have better academic outcomes than the public schools. Which means that in Catholic schools don’t really deliver better results. Something doesn’t add up.

  4. The only reference to private/charter school performance I could find in the article is a quote from the president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, not exactly an unbiased source.

    But the concentration on educational results is a red herring. The crucial difference between district-based public schools and private/charter schools is that it places the educational decision-making power in the hands of people who are most likely to have a good education as their top priority: parents.

  5. Here’s a link to more info about Cleveland.