News

Ohio Taxpayer Money Funds Private K-12 Education– without Adequate Oversight

January 7, 2020

Contact: Ashley Wolsefer
Email: ashley@kathyforohio.com
Phone: (513) 377-8063

Senate Candidate Kathy Wyenandt Says Private Schools Need Same Performance Accountability Standards as Public Schools

Every student in Ohio deserves a high-quality education, no matter what zip code he or she lives in.

 But the way Ohio funds education is gutting public education, said Ohio Senate District 4 candidate Kathy Wyenandt of Liberty Township, Ohio. 

“State funds awarded to public school districts are being depleted under EdChoice, one of the state’s five school voucher programs,” said Wyenandt. “Public school education funds are being shifted to private schools not held to the same academic accountability standards for effectiveness.”

The issue is not whether state education funds should support public or private schools, said Wyenandt. The issue is the funding mechanism.

“We need to fix the report card and make every school—public or private—adhere to the same educational and outcome standards as public schools. The current system shortchanges public school children and needs to be changed so every student receives a chance at obtaining a good education.”

  Ohio’s EdChoice education voucher funds are taken directly as line items out of the state budget, said Wyenandt.

Funding private school education through EdChoice depletes the amount of money going to Ohio’s 4,237 public schools and creates an “over-reliance on local property taxes to fund schools,” according to the Ohio Federation of Teachers and Heights Coalition for Public Education.

Peter Greene, a teacher for 39 years and now an Ohio education advocate, said in a December Forbes opinion piece that the cost of “parallel school systems for the same amount of money that used to fund a single system” is a “slow starving of public schools.” .

In Butler County, for example, in this academic year, three public school districts will lose a significant amount of state funds. In the 2020-2021 academic year, however, eight Butler County school districts affecting 36 school buildings will be affected, including Edgewood; Fairfield; Hamilton; Lakota; Middletown; New Miami; Ross; and Talawanda.

“Changes to state law have more than tripled the number of school districts that have been declared part of the voucher program, affecting 400 out of 613 districts,” said Wyenandt. “This is essentially gutting public school funding—robbing Peter to pay Paul—with little or no accountability as to the value of education being offered to Ohio’s children.”

Innovation Ohio, a Columbus-based nonpartisan, nonprofit thinktank that blends policy research and advocacy, released a report on Ohio’s voucher program this fall. The report calls the July, 2019 passage of House Bill 166, the state’s two-year operating budget for fiscal years 2020 and 2021, a “disturbing return to the lax oversight of Ohio’s charter school system that led to a massive taxpayer scandal, as well as a continued expansion of the transfer of taxpayer funds from public to mostly-religious private schools.”

Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), at one time Ohio’s largest online charter school, defrauded the state of Ohio of at least $189 million in overpaid dollars before being exposed in 2015. The now-bankrupt online charter school claimed to have 15,000 students in the state of Ohio when it had only 6,000, according to news reports.

Innovation Ohio also said an expansion Ohio’s voucher system “could cost Ohio districts at least another $73 million over the biennium, on top of an already ballooning $389 million per year private school voucher program.” 

 “This means Ohio public school districts are expected to lose tens of millions of dollars in funding, which erodes the financial stability of our public schools.,” said Wyenandt. “We need to disentangle school funding and create a fair and equitable formula that includes separate line items for vouchers. We also need to hold private schools that accept public, taxpayer dollars to be held to the same academic standards.”

Wyenandt, a Democratic candidate for State Senate, is running on a platform of “people over politics.” She had the top showing among three Democratic statehouse candidates in November, 2018, and the best showing for a Democrat seeking the 52nd House seat since redistricting following the 2010 Census, according to local news reports. 

Wyenandt has been a resident in Butler County for 30 years and helps run Advance Transportation Logistics in Cincinnati, a family-owned business. She has served as a Parent Teacher Organization volunteer in the Lakota School District and is a member of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) board of directors. She and her husband, Jim, have four children, three who currently attend Lakota Local School District schools.

To find out more about the Kathy for Ohio campaign, visit www.kathyforohio.com. To contact Wyenandt or schedule a coffee fundraiser meeting, call (513) 377-8063.        

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