The Pettisville School Board voiced its opposition to the plan of John Kasich, Ohio governor, to expand the EdChoice Scholarship Program for students attending private or parochial schools.
Charter schools are not included in the EdChoice program, because they are defined as public schools and tuition is not required; students may attend any charter school that will accept them.
At the Monday, May 13 board meeting, members learned the proposal will allow families with kindergarten students to apply for a voucher if their household income is less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
The voucher could then be used at the parents’ choice of a private or parochial school. In 2014-15, the program would again expand to include first graders in those families.
Presently only students who are enrolled in a failing school can apply for the vouchers, but the Kasich proposal expands that to students attending any public school.
In a later interview, Steve Switzer, Pettisville superintendent, said the 200%-ofpoverty figure “is fluid.”
“Once the camel’s nose is under the tent, more will follow,” Switzer said.
“The original ‘voucher’ legislation was applicable only to ‘failing’ schools. Now, they are attempting to expand the (EdChoice program) by opening it to any public school regardless of performance.
“A simple change of legislation could change the number to 100% of poverty, less than that, or have no economic requirement at all.”
He said, “This is a serious threat to public schools. This will transfer funds from public to private education.”
Private and parochial schools have no public accountability, and have the choice to accept or reject students, he said.
If those schools begin accepting public dollars, they should be open to public scrutiny.
Switzer said, hundreds of other school boards have also voiced opposition to the expansion in similar measures.– D.J. Neuenschwander