File-Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman

Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima

(The Center Square) – More than 300,000 Ohio students take advantage of some type of school choice option in the state, and that number could grow thanks to legislation signed into law near the end of 2020.

Senate Bill 89, sponsored by new Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, made several changes to the state’s EdChoice Scholarship programs, expanding income-based opportunities and the traditional programs.

This week, Huffman introduced Senate Resolution 9 that recognizes this week as National School Choice Week in Ohio. The week is set aside to help raise awareness of K-12 education options for parents.

“This week highlights the importance of opportunity and reaffirms a parent’s right to choose the best educational option for their child,” Huffman said. “I am proud of the work we have accomplished in Ohio to help create solutions for Ohio’s schools and families.”

Before SB 89, the state’s EdChoice program gave students private-school vouchers if their local school fails any state report card measure.

The new law, which takes effect in March, changes eligibility for vouchers by offering them to students in schools ranked in the bottom 20% according to performance index rankings and to students in districts with 20% or more low-income students. It also increases the income-based voucher program for those at 200% of the poverty level to 250%.

Ohio’s teachers lobbied Gov. Mike DeWine to veto the bill, calling it damaging to most students.

“Vouchers drain needed resources from the 90% of students who attend Ohio public schools. This forces too many communities into raising their property taxes, which then subsidizes tuition for many students who never step foot into public schools that are now financing their private school education,” OEA President Scott DiMauro said in a news release in late November.

DeWine eventually signed the bill a few days later.

Ohio’s option range from home schooling to charter schools and five voucher programs. Also, the state totals more than 700 private schools, as well as public schools, which can offer some type of open enrollment.

“Ohio has long been a leader in providing educational choice for families,” Eric Frank, chairman and president of School Choice Ohio, said. “This means we acknowledge that parents know what works best for their children. School choice week is a great time to highlight how crucial educational choice is to our state and how it drives achievement for all students.”

Regional Editor

An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.