On February 13th, the Citizens for Community Values will join with a group of concerned parents to hold a press conference, imploring the Ohio legislature to expand access to EDChoice Scholarships.
Since 2005, EdChoice scholarships have existed been a statewide initiative that gives students the opportunity to receive scholarships to attend private schools, should their local public school perform poorly. The Ohio Department of Education rates each school and district on six components then assigns an overall grade. Overall, Toledo public high schools currently have an “F.” In four of six categories; Achievement, Gap Closing, Graduation Rate, and Prepared for Success, Toledo also has an F. In the remaining 2; Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers and Progress, the district received a “D.” Many local parents have reservations in sending their children to these schools.
The concerned parents organizing the press conference all have children who attend private schools local to Toledo, many of which will be entering high school soon. Due to a provision within the law, these private school students, who are not currently receiving scholarships, are ineligible to receive these funds for high school. Therefore, they would have no choice to attend the local public schools or try to pay out-of-pocket, which is an unrealistic expense for many.
EdChoice and most School Choice Programs remain controversial in many areas of the country. The most consistent argument is that the funds spent on providing scholarships siphon funds that would otherwise be spent on public schools. However, many counter this by suggesting that increasing school funding overall would solve both problems and that easing the high student-to-teacher ratio is beneficial to the public school. Secondly, the charter schools that are often the result of School Choice Programs are not subjected to the same regulations and national unions as public schools which, they argue, undermines the union. While it is true that they face fewer protections, many teachers willingly join charter schools because they have better support, resources, and working conditions. While these problems will require long-term solutions, these parents need a solution now to prevent their children from attending schools that tragically can’t make the grade.
The press conference will be held from 9:30-10:30 a the Heatherdowns Branch Library.
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Andrew Shirley is a reporter at Battleground State News and The Ohio Star. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Students in Class” by NPS/S. Sparhawk.