NEWS: Voucher Supporters Celebrate With Students at Ohio High School

From The Cleveland Plain Dealer:
CLEVELAND — The latest version of the state budget bill would make more students in Cleveland and some other area districts eligible for state vouchers to pay for private-school tuition.
That’s a very good thing in the eyes of voucher advocates like School Choice Ohio, whose representatives were in Cleveland on Wednesday for Academic Signing Day at St. Martin de Porres High School.
Chad Aldis, the group’s executive director, said Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio House have made a “giant legislative leap forward” with proposed changes to the Cleveland and EdChoice voucher programs, which serve more than 18,000 students.
The bill, now before the State Senate, would:
• Raise the number of EdChoice vouchers, available for students in chronically low-performing schools outside Cleveland, from 14,000 to 60,000 within two years.
• Fatten the Cleveland vouchers from the current maximum of $3,450 a year to the same amount offered by EdChoice — $4,250 for elementary students and $5,000 for high school students.
• Allow Cleveland students to get vouchers for high school even if they didn’t use them for elementary school.
The result is likely to be more state money flowing to schools like St. Martin de Porres in the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood. A third of this year’s graduating class – and four of the school’s nine top students honored at Signing Day — use vouchers.
That includes Shawnetta Stephens, who proudly hoisted a Hoya T-shirt at the celebration to signify that she’ll attend Georgetown University in the fall.
Like all of her classmates, Shawnetta worked one day a week with partner employers to gain practical experience and earn money toward high school tuition. She plans to study nursing and someday become a midwife.
Greg Brooks, on his way to Youngstown State University and a career in engineering, has been using vouchers since kindergarten.
His mother, Robi, said Greg’s preschool teacher saw his potential and suggested looking into private school. The family might have found a way to send him without a voucher, but she’s grateful that the help was available, Brooks said.
Richard Clark, the school’s president, said both students show that “when the opportunity is given, believe me, these young people take it and run with it.”
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