OPINION: School Choice in Ohio Will Help Poor Students
Posted on Monday October 03, 2011 | Ohio
From Thomas Suddes writing in The Cleveland Plain Dealer:
At the Statehouse, it never fails: Some of the same officeholders who demand that Ohioans have choice about pregnancy denounce choice if an Ohioan does have a child, then wants state help to make possible another crucial parental choice: that child's schooling.
The latest Capitol Square skirmish is over House Bill 136. The bill would expand Ohio's current school-voucher plans. Until now, outside the Cleveland School District, Ohio parents have been eligible for school vouchers only if their child's "home" public school building has been rated in "academic watch" or "academic emergency" for a specified period.
HB 136, sponsored by Rep. Matt Huffman, a Lima Republican, would create a Parental Choice and Taxpayer Savings Scholarship voucher. A family would be eligible for the PACT voucher regardless of whether its "home" public school building were in academic trouble.
So geographically, most Ohio parents would be eligible. They'd be financially eligible, too. A family seeking a PACT voucher could have annual federal adjusted gross income of up to $95,000. That, potentially, is a lot of parents.
Ohio has long recognized that children remain citizens, regardless of the schools they attend. The 1965 Fair Bus Bill let nonpublic pupils ride public school buses. Among those working to get that bill passed in Columbus was a young lawyer in private practice at Jones Day in Cleveland named Antonin Scalia. In 1967, the "auxiliary services" law expanded the services Ohio offered young citizens enrolled in nonpublic schools.