The Truth About EdChoice Vouchers and Euclid City Schools

The way school funding is currently set up, Ohio lawmakers have incentivized Euclid taxpayers, parents and private schools to harm our public school system. Last year alone, Euclid schools paid out $6 million in tuition to private schools through the EdChoice voucher program – an amount that increased by $1.2 million this year when program qualifications changed unexpectedly.

There has to be a better way.

 If you believe that every child deserves a quality education and every family should be able to choose what is best for their child, then it’s time for our community to work together and prioritize both of those things. It is not the fault of public school teachers or students/families that Euclid schools do not rate well using the flawed state testing system. Cleveland State University’s Center for Urban Education 2019 Greater Cleveland School Performance Report proves this.

 “At least 80% of an Ohio school’s [state test] score is explained by factors that are out of a school’s control, like students’ socioeconomic status and disabilities. This Center report presents a different way of thinking about school performance that focuses on the factors over which schools have some control and does not penalize them for the hardships and barriers that their students bring with them to school.” In fact, the progress Euclid schools, teachers and students have made over the last several years is amazing in light of the tremendous financial constraints the district has been under.

 As parents with children whose needs are being well met in both public and private schools, we weighed a number of factors when deciding what was best for each of our children. I wrote last month about my oldest son’s very positive experience transferring to Euclid High School from a well-respected private school this year.

 I am equally grateful for the supportive and welcoming community that my other two children found at Saints Robert and William Catholic School. As a person who has been lucky enough to benefit from both systems, I feel responsible to help ensure that other children are not being hurt by the system that benefits my family.

At the state level, applications for the EdChoice voucher program were placed on hold until April of this year (they were supposed to start last month). This has caused a lot of anxiety for families that depend on the EdChoice voucher for their child’s education. I understand this. And I hope you will contact our state representatives with your fears and concerns. But please, when contemplating the kind of change you are advocating for, acknowledge the negative effects for other children and our community when we take funds out of public schools to fund private education.

 One of the solutions being discussed by legislators is that funds used for school vouchers will become income-based and/or will be taken out of state resources, instead of taking them directly out of the local school budget. This is the solution I am most comfortable with, though it may mean my family is not eligible for the voucher. I have to be okay with that possible outcome. Ultimately, I am my children’s first teacher, and I want them to learn that some choices should be made based on personal values and not just the potential benefit to our family.

Do you believe in the value of public education?

Please vote FOR Issue 27 on March 17 to support all Euclid students and families.

Pam Turos

Pam Turos is long-time Euclid transplant and the founder of WISH Cleveland & Good Cause Creative. Writer. Non-profit consultant. Social Justice Advocate. "I love the power of a good story, the last five minutes of yoga class, reading past my bedtime and learning more about the messy art of being human from my husband and three children."

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Volume 11, Issue 3, Posted 5:25 PM, 03.09.2020