“Poor naked wretches, wheresoe’er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm!
How shall your houseless heads, and unfed sides,
Your loop’d and window’d raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these?”—SHAKESPEARE.
In the wake of a difficult state budget, EdChoice students, parents, and schools have taken a direct hit.
In a blow to hardworking Ohio parents, Governor Strickland reduced scholarship amounts for the popular scholarship program. Scholarships have been reduced from $4500 to $4250 for K-8 and from $5300 to $5000 for 9-12.
Unfortunately, this change was unnecessary. The House and Senate had already made a compromise on funding the vouchers by taking out the automatic increase for changes in the cost of education that the scholarship had included.
Thus, the scholarship was both cut by 6% (back to 2006 funding levels) and given no ability to adjust upward in the future. This is more than everyone sharing in what was a painful budget process for many, as public schools were only cut by 1% (before taking into account federal stimulus dollars). This is a weakening of a parental option for parents whose children had been assigned to attend Ohio’s lowest performing public schools. Why?
The veto message from the governor stated, “This provision would increase the maximum award for the Educational Choice scholarship program. In a time of limited resources and shared sacrifice across state government, it is not in the public interest to increase these scholarships.”
First, the vetoed language would not have been an increase in the scholarship amount—students this year received scholarships with a maximum value of $4500 and $5300 depending upon grade level. This represents a decrease in funding. Second, during this time of shared sacrifice, education was not supposed to be on the list of cuts.
These cuts when coupled with the reductions in state aid to Ohio’s parochial and other nonpublic schools might force schools to increase tuition to make up for the lost revenue.
During these trying economic times, these parents have already and are continuing to sacrifice for their families. It is now more important than ever that we do not take from parents quality educational choices for their children.
We all want our children to have a quality education. This means improving all schools to fit the needs of the child. It is imperative for us all to work together. If we fail to strip away the dogma that surrounds education and treats public education as the only available source of education, then we have not embraced the change that President Obama has called for.
As the governor seeks to turn around Ohio through the promotion of education as the main thruster of economic resource, this action is truly a curious way to make education a top priority and show a commitment to all Ohio students.
– Tisha Brady