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Action Needed: Share Your Support For EdChoice

 
Action Alert: Families are Asked to Share Testimony in Support of EdChoice
 
EdChoice Action Alert
Diocese of Youngstown Office of Catholic Schools
February 2020
 
As you likely know, the State of Ohio legislature is currently in the process of proposing changes to the Ohio EdChoice Scholarship Program. The Ohio General Assembly voted in late January to delay the EdChoice Scholarship application from the original opening application period, from February 1 until April 1, with the intent of modifying the program in a way that will take choices away from Ohio families. A House vote on the evening of February 5 further proposes to erode education options for families.
 
The current delay means more than 30,000 students statewide, who are already participating in the scholarship program, are not able to apply to renew their scholarships at this time. In addition, the uncertainty of new legislation, which attempts to change the law passed on July 1, 2019, is creating hardships for families who rely on the EdChoice Scholarship opportunities for the 2020-2021 school year.
 
We value the EdChoice program because it empowers parents, saves taxpayer dollars, and strengthens all educational offerings (public and private). The EdChoice Scholarship Program has been invaluable to many of our families and will continue to allow countless families the ability to choose our Catholic schools.
 
We need your help! Please join us in advocating for school choice. At this time a special Joint Conference Committee, which brings together members of both the Senate and the House, is holding hearings to listen to testimony on the EdChoice program.
 
Districts from across the state are expected to testify in large numbers. While representatives from Stark County Catholic Schools do plan to attend, it has been expressed to us that it will be essential for Catholic school families to demonstrate to the General Assembly that there is large support for EdChoice. The Ohio Catholic Conference and the Diocese of Youngstown have asked that any student, parent, family member, or supporter of our schools join us in sending written testimony to the committee on why school choice is important.  
 
Here is how you can help:
 
First, offer a Witness Statement for the Joint Conference Committee. Here are the steps to send a written statement:
1. Please fill out a Witness Statement by using this link: Testimony in support of EdChoice
2. Fill in the prompts
3. Download the completed form to your computer or device
4. Email completed form to: [email protected]

Second, families can also send a customizable email directly to their senator and representatives by visiting School Choice Ohio.
 
We appreciate anyone who takes the time to advocate for school choice. In order to assist you in putting together your statement in support of EdChoice, below are some facts the Diocese wishes to share.
 
Fast Facts about School Choice in Ohio
  • The official documents and teachings of the global Catholic Church have long affirmed the value of Catholic education and parents’ rights to choose schools, including with the assistance of the state. 
  • Ohio’s scholarship (voucher) programs are about social justice. Individuals and families of means have always exercised school choice by choosing to live in districts with public schools of their liking (choice by residential selection). Vouchers expand that choice to others.
  • School choice is an improvement strategy. Research in Ohio and nationwide has found choice policies are associated with improved traditional public school performance as well as parental satisfaction for those who exercise choice.
  • School choice providers are accountable to results. All scholarship students take state-mandated tests, with results published online by school and grade level. When dissatisfied families exit, they take all of their funding, which is the ultimate accountability.
  • EdChoice is cost-effective. Last year the state reported average spending of $9,724 per pupil in traditional public schools, while EdChoice scholarship awards averaged $4,892.
  • Catholic schools in Ohio, which are supported mainly on tuition and philanthropy, provide millions of dollars of savings by educating students outside of Ohio’s funding formula. Scholarships enable more to participate in private schools, saving costs for taxpayers.
  • Choice programs do not violate any constitutional separation of Church and state. The right of parents and guardians to use scholarships (vouchers) to choose the best environment for their children, regardless of school type, was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002).
  • Ohio’s school funding formula was found to be unconstitutional because of its reliance on property taxes, not its Choice Programs, which are efficient.  Major changes to Choice Programs without addressing the formula ignore the root causes of problems.
Other information on school choice, can be found at Catholic Conference of Ohio.
 
Again, thank you for your time and consideration as we unite in support of this important rally for school choice.

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