Upcoming Events/Advocacy

We live in a virtual world right now, but there i still advocacy work to be done.

BRAVO to the Cleveland Heights – University Heights City Schools Board of Education for passing THIS resolution to pursue litigation against the state of Ohio for their mishandling of EdChoice Vouchers resulting in the loss of district funds.

April 27, 2020 Please read this report by Susie Kaeser on the Impact of Vouchers on Educational Opportunities. (pdf)

February 10, 2020 Forum: School Funding in Ohio: The Possibilities and Challenges of Creating a Solution with Bill Phillis and Rep. John Patterson. FLYER LINK for more info.


-Slideshow (PDF)
-Slideshow (Powerpoint)
-Narration only for slideshow (PDF)
-Slides and narration (PDF)
-More Info – Handout for slideshow (PDF)
-Video of slideshow with commentary (Youtube) (updated Jan 9, 2020)

SHORT-TERM VOUCHER FIXES (or this content as a PDF)

A common repeated message goes a long way when trying to get members of the legislature to listen.

Please call members of the Ohio Senate and Ohio House Leadership and Education Committee members with this message for short-term fixes to Voucher Funding.

1.  Remove budget language from House Bill 166 expanding vouchers in grades 7-8 and for high schools. Restore voucher language to pre-budget language.

Rationale: The budget expansion places a financial burden on traditional public school districts and was not fully vetted during the Senate or House budget process

2. Limit report card look back to 2017-2018, 2018-2019 and direct ODE to recalculate the buildings eligible for vouchers based on the new look back language.

Rationale: The State should not make judgements about a building’s performance based on six or seven (2013-2014) year old data.  The safe harbor provided schools the ability to catch up with the rapid changes made by the legislature seven years ago when testing and cut scores rapidly changed. Using recent data is a more accurate reflection of what is happening in schools even with a flawed report card. Nearly half of the 2020-2021buildings received an overall grade of A, B or C on their current state report card.

3. Make the default for vouchers the Expansion (income) vouchers instead of the EdChoice voucher.

Rationale:  Making EdChoice the default for new vouchers has placed a heavy financial burden on traditional school districts. Since the state has frozen the foundation funding for the biennium, then it should not deduct funding from schools to pay for private education of students who never attended their districts. The deducts are making it harder to educate the students who attend public schools. Student Wellness funds are not a substitute for vouchers according to HB 166 language.

4. Restore funding for school districts that have lost funds to voucher students who were not part of their 2019 Average Daily Enrollment.

Rationale:  School districts have used millions of dollars of local funds to send students to private schools. Current law is not sustainable. It has negatively impacted education quality and the financial stability of hundreds of school districts. Current law will create the need for additional local levies and overburden local tax payers where they pass. 

5. Cap the loss of funds for high poverty (50% economically disadvantage) districts at 5% and other school districts at 10%.

Rationale: These options protect school districts from additional harm if the previous amendment, to restore funding, isn’t fully implemented, or the EdChoice numbers continue to increase during the funding freeze.

Speaker of the House:
Larry Householder Phone
(614) 466-2500
Email:   http://www.ohiohouse.gov/larry-householder/contact

President of the Senate: 
Larry Obhof
(614) 466-7505  
Email:  https://www.ohiosenate.gov/senators/obhof/contact

Senate Finance Chair:
Matt Dolan: 
(614) 466-8056
Email:  https://www.ohiosenate.gov/senators/dolan/contact

House Finance Chair:
Scott Oelslager

Email:  http://www.ohiohouse.gov/scott-oelslager/contact

Don Jones – Chair Susan Manchester – Vice Chair Phillip M Robinson Jr. Sara Carruthers Erica C. Crawley Robert R. Cupp Catherine D. Ingram J. Kyle Koehler Gayle Manning Joseph A. Miller III John Patterson Bill Roemer J. Todd Smith Lisa A. Sobecki Jason Stephens Fred Strahorn  Peggy Lehner – Chair Andrew O. Brenner – Vice-Chair Teresa Fedor Louis Blessing III William Coley, II Theresa Gavarone Matt Huffman Stephen A. Huffman Tina Maharath Nathan H. Manning Vernon Sykes    

For more information about actions and the work of the Heights Coalition For Public Education go to:  http://chuh.net/coalition and endorse our position.

From our 11.13.19 Action Alert:

The deduction method of funding vouchers is draining essential state aid out of local district budgets. House Bill 166, the budget bill for Fiscal Year 2020-2021 caps school funding at 2019 level, many school districts are suffering from the increasing number of students seeking vouchers who didn’t attend their schools in 2019. Many school districts are losing state aid and subsidizing with local funds, hurting the students who remain in public schools. This action will force school districts to the ballot and supplant the lost funds with Student Wellness and Success Funds, weakening the effectiveness of that program and undermining the intent of the Wellness funds

We need you to call Senate and House Leadership along with the Senate and House Finance Chairs and tell them that public education can’t continue to take the hit. A last-minute amendment to the budget bill, HB 166, has created the problem many school districts are facing. School districts can’t wait until the next budget to fix the problem.

Please call or email these legislative leaders and tell them today:
We want the legislature to prevent schools from losing more than 10 percent of their state aid and 5 percent of their state aid for the district with 50 % or more economically disadvantaged students.  We also want the legislature to create a separate line item for deducts for vouchers and other deducts.

Speaker of the House:
Larry Householder Phone
(614) 466-2500
Email Representative Householder

President of the Senate:
Larry Obhof
(614) 466-7505
Email Senator Obhof

Senate Finance Chair:
Matt Dolan:
(614) 466-8056
Email Senator Dolan

House Finance Chair:
Scott Oelslager
Email Representative Oelslager

Vouchers are undermining school district finances and public school student opportunities. Vouchers should not upend local district funding, especially in high poverty districts.  We want financial help for districts that carry a heavy burden. We want a fair system.

FIRST STEERING MEETING: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 at The Coventry Peave Campus, 2843 Washington Blvd at 7 PM All welcome.

From our email 9.19.19
Ohio Coalition For Equity and Adequacy

Our friends in advocacy at Ohio E&A hit the nail on the head surrounding current Takeover Makeovers at the state house. Use this helpful info to call or email key members of the Senate Education Committee. So few people actually make calls that YOURS is important
Sen Peggy Lehner (614) 466-4538 Email Senator Lehner
Senator Teresa Fedor (614) 466-5204 Email Senator Fedor
Senator Lou Terhar (614) 466-8068 Email Senator Terhar
See the whole committee:  http://www.ohiosenate.gov/committees/education

HB 70 makeover of state takeover bill (Substitute HB 154) of 95 pages is crammed with bureaucracy and busy work and a robust appropriation for “experts”

Some pertinent provisions of Substitute HB 154: ·        The school transformation board ·        Ohio Department of Education required to create an approved list of experts or organizations ·        Districts may enter into a contract with an expert or organization (partially state funded) o  *experts can be hired without competitive bidding ·        Mandatory community stakeholders group ·        School improvement committee o  School improvement committee may enter into a contract with a school improvement expert o  Shall appoint a director (under HB 70 a CEO) who has HB 70 powers o  The board of education does not hire the director (CEO) o  Director may reconstitute the school district   If it walks like a duck…it probably is one.   The Senate production of Substitute HB 154 is a rehash of HB 70 with the addition of an appropriation to hire experts. What boards, superintendents, principals and teachers in struggling districts need are resources, not highly compensated experts to tell them what they are doing wrong.   Substitute HB 154(link to Ohio E&A’s opposition letter) is obviously a product of some think tank type of experts far removed from the reality of classrooms.   The appropriation connected with it is a cash cow for a herd of experts that are here today and gone tomorrow.

Consider signing up for the Ohio E&A newsletter at:  http://ohiocoalition.org/ they are the good guys.

August 26, 2019

The Heights Coalition has important work to do. We look forward to your help as we challenge policies that undercut our precious democratic institution: Public Education.

What the Legislature did during summer break to expand vouchers and punish public education.

It took until late June for the Ohio Legislature to adopt a budget. When they finally did, vouchers won big and public education lost.  

Four policy changes significantly expand access to vouchers and shrink public funds for public schools:

  • Prior enrollment in a public school is no longer a condition for high school students to claim an EdChoice Voucher.
  • Prior enrollment in a public school is no longer a condition for any student to claim an EdChoice Expansion Voucher.
  • The cap on EdChoice Vouchers is no longer fixed at 60,000. When 90% of vouchers are claimed, the cap must be raised by 5%. Growth is now guaranteed.
  • The phase-in of EdChoice Expansion vouchers just jumped from one grade a year to all grades starting this school year.

Ohio now openly funds religious education. The changes ended any pretense that vouchers are needed to make it possible for children to “escape failing public schools” since there is no longer a requirement that a student attend a public school prior to applying for a voucher! 

Since EdChoice, Peterson, and Autism vouchers are funded by a deduction from state aid to local school districts, any growth in the use of vouchers means public school children will receive less state aid.

The legislature added some funds for wraparound services that will help school districts serve their students, but they did not solve the dysfunctional funding formula. Most school districts will experience the same amount of state aid as they did last year. This means any growth in voucher use will come straight out of funds for public school students.

End of Safe Harbor Increases the Negative Impact of EdChoice Vouchers

For the last three school years, the State Department of Education suspended the use of state report cards to designate any new EdChoice schools. The number of EdChoice schools was stable at 218 schools in 39 districts. That temporary relief is over, and it has broken open the floodgates to increase demand for EdChoice vouchers.

This year, 465 schools in more than 160 Ohio districts are affected. Cleveland Heights High School is one of those newly designated schools.

Over the last 4 years the school has received a “C” on the state report card for graduation rate, although the graduation rate for the three years prior to safe harbor was lower. This older data, from students who are now 25 years old, was used to create this year’s designation of the high school as an EdChoice school.

And now, with the absence of any requirement that high school students need to have been public school students for a year prior to receiving a voucher, there has been a large, unanticipated bulge in voucher use by 9th through 12th graders, most of whom never attended Heights High or Heights schools.

With state aid capped at last year’s level, each of the 351+ new high school voucher users will take $6,000 of the state aid allocated to the district. It’s more than $2.1 million.

The legislature continues to make privatization the priority in how they distribute public education funds. Click here if you want a brief reminder about Edchoice and Edchoice Expansion voucher program.