COLUMBUS—House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D- Akron) and Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon), who serves as the Ranking Member on the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee, issued statements today concerning the need for immediate action as a first step to fixing the state’s broken EdChoice voucher program in advance of the February 1 application period and the requested improvements House Democrats would like to see made to safeguard fair access and fair funding for our schools.
“House Democrats support our public schools and the hard-working teachers and students that make our communities proud,” Leader Sykes said. “Our caucus has shown a continued commitment to the belief that education is the great equalizer in the pursuit for the American Dream and that is why we are apprehensive about some of the ideas that are being proposed as a solution for the voucher program that could create greater inequality in Ohio’s schools. I urge my colleagues in the Majority to listen to the concerns of our public school teachers, administrators and parents and to not penalize local communities in this important endeavor to fix a broken voucher system.”
Rep. Phil Robinson agrees we need to protect our public schools.
“The intent of the EdChoice program is a noble one – for lower-income and working class families to be able to afford education alternatives in struggling school districts. But as we have seen, the original intent has been corrupted with a broken Ohio State Report Card system and an unconstitutional funding system that disadvantages students in rural, urban and suburban districts and exacerbates inequality among all Ohio districts,” Rep. Robinson said. “This problem cannot be fixed entirely overnight, but we do need to move quickly to make immediate, short-term improvements before February 1.”
House Democrats realize this is a complicated issue but believe there is a simple, immediate fix:
- Restrict EdChoice vouchers for A, B and the vast majority of C letter grade schools;
- Ensure income eligibility for the vouchers is appropriate;
- Family eligibility must be based on a one-year minimum in an Ohio public school;
- When determining voucher eligibility, school data no further back than three years should be considered;
- Do not take any more money away from our already financially-strained public schools and reimburse those districts that took a hard hit in FY2019 due to the broken voucher system.
Rep. Robinson lives in the thriving community of Solon, consistently a top-rated school district in Ohio and the nation. In an earlier statement, he pointed out just how broken the voucher system had become when a school in the Solon district recently qualified for EdChoice.
Lawmakers are not scheduled to return from the holiday break for committee meetings until the week of January 21 which presents a problem with the application period for the EdChoice voucher program beginning February 1.