While 20,000 students in Ohio are using a state voucher to attend the private school of their choice, many students are shut out because they do not meet the narrow eligibility guidelines of the current voucher programs. In this ongoing series, we share stories from just a few of the families who wish that they, too, had a choice.
All is not what it seems when it comes to “affording” private schools. People equate having children in private schools with having the means to pay tuition. I currently have my own children in Catholic school, but, NO, my husband and I actually don’t have any means to do it. We are making huge sacrifices to pay and receiving help from our church and community because we have seen with our older children how lost they were in public school and we want something different for our younger kids.
In 2006, we had to file for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to save our house, because I was constantly off of work due to illness and surgeries. In 2007, I suffered a near fatal injury to one of my lungs. I became disabled and have not been able to work since January 2009. I am currently awaiting a hearing with the Social Security Administration for benefits.
My daughter had JUST been enrolled and we had already signed our tuition contract right before I exhausted my FMLA time at my employer. Once she completed kindergarten, we faced the very difficult decision of whether to keep her in or not. We knew that she was better attended to by the private school staff since enrollment was lower, and she is being taught core values of our faith as well. We opted to keep her there and suffer the sacrifices.
My husband works 1 full-time job and 2 part-time jobs. We get 90 percent of our food from local food pantries. We have faced shut off on our utilities numerous times and there is no end in sight until I get my day in court with Social Security. How do I choose though, to pull my daughter out of a phenomenal school where she is learning SO much more than a public school student of the same age? At 6, she already can do fractions, double digit addition and subtraction, can read chapter books, and knows all her punctuations and how to use them. Just because my husband and I don’t have high-paying jobs doesn’t mean we don’t want the best for our children’s education.
While some feel that only public school students should be able to able to direct their child’s education funds to the school of their choice, I would say that private school students should have the same opportunity. After all, aren’t we paying the same taxes as our neighbors? I speak for thousands of others when I convey how much help families need, even if their children are already enrolled in private school.