Ohio Senate’s private school voucher expansion unsurprisingly divides parents

By: - June 20, 2023 4:40 am

COLUMBUS, Ohio — JUNE 15: State Sen. Matt Dolan, R-Lima, speaks during the Ohio Senate session, June 15, 2023, at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal. Republish photo only with original story.)

The Ohio Senate’s proposed expansion of private school vouchers has unsurprisingly divided parents across the state.

Parents want what is best for their kids.

“Having that private education is important, especially ours is focused on our faith,” Lynette Haehn said.

For the mother of three, the Senate budget couldn’t have come at a better time.

She has been sending her kids to private school for years now — but with inflation and the cost of school, “money is tight,” she added.

The Senate budget expands the private voucher system, which would allow her to apply for a scholarship to send her kids to the private or charter school of her choosing.

The current cutoff is about $88,000 per year for a family of five, like Haehn’s. Under the new budget, that amount gets bumped up to nearly $160,000. Families making more can still get a voucher, but they would only get a partial scholarship.

But for other parents and public school advocates, this system is unfair and undemocratic.

“You shouldn’t defund public schools to fund charter schools,” Kia Woodward said. “And we shouldn’t be competing for the same pot of money.”

Woodward sends her daughter to public school and said seeing money get pulled from public schools and sent to private is destroying local districts. Just this fall, Columbus educators held a strike to get air conditioning and heating.

“I want the kids, especially the public school kids, to get a quality education and not have to fight for just basic amenities that everyone should have,” she said.

Haehn understands this argument, she said. However, there is a solution.

“As a school system, make your school system the best that it can possibly be, and then people will choose you,” the mom said.

Public schools can’t get better if their funding is going to private schools, Woodward said.

This budget is not final. The House will need to vote to concur with it or head into a conference committee, which will likely happen.

Both parents should know by June 30 if and by how much vouchers will be expanded.


This article was originally published on News5Cleveland.com and is published in the Ohio Capital Journal under a content-sharing agreement. Unlike other OCJ articles, it is not available for free republication by other news outlets as it is owned by WEWS in Cleveland.

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Morgan Trau
Morgan Trau

Morgan Trau is a political reporter and multimedia journalist based out of the WEWS Columbus Bureau. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Trau has previously worked as an investigative, political and fact-checking reporter in Grand Rapids, Mich. at WZZM-TV; a reporter and MMJ in Spokane, Wash. at KREM-TV and has interned at 60 Minutes and worked for CBS Interactive and PBS NewsHour.