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Ohio’s Private School Vouchers: A Closer Look at Expenditure and Impact

Due to Ohio’s substantial investment in private school vouchers—which totaled almost $1 billion in the most recent academic year—the effectiveness and beneficiaries of this program are being closely examined. Although programs like the EdChoice program aim to increase access to private education, evidence indicates that the increase in spending largely helps families who already send their children to private schools.

There has been a significant increase in the use of income-based EdChoice vouchers in six counties, according to data from the Ohio Department of Education. But this increase is in stark contrast to the low enrollment growth at voucher-accepting schools, suggesting that the program primarily serves as financial aid for current private school students.

Redirecting taxpayer dollars to private schools, particularly religious ones, is opposed by those who claim that doing so worsens inequality and jeopardizes funding for public education. The Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy for School Funding’s executive director, William Phillis, claims that this kind of funding is against Ohio’s constitution.

Nearly 70% of voucher spending is allocated to the EdChoice and EdChoice Expansion programs, which give financial aid to households depending on income levels. Supporters stress the value of accessibility and choice, while opponents worry about taking money away from the larger educational system.

Proponents such as Beth Lawson of School Choice Ohio contend that the voucher system gives families the ability to make well-informed decisions about their children’s education, despite opposition. They do, however, recognize that not everyone is a good fit for private education and support making well-informed decisions that are in line with personal requirements.

Numerous private schools in the area have seen increases in enrollment and voucher usage as a result of the sharp growth in voucher usage. Due in part to the availability of vouchers, schools like Dayton Christian and Catholic schools under the Cincinnati archdiocese have experienced significant expansion.

However, worries about the possible effects of universal voucher programs—such as the reduction of funding for public education and the rise of discriminatory behaviors in institutions receiving private funding—remain.

A thorough and equitable approach to education policy is vital, as demonstrated by the ongoing debate regarding private school vouchers, especially as Ohio struggles with the intricacies of educational funding and choice.

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