By The Editorial Board, WSJ, November. 23, 2020
PHOTO: LUKE GRONNEBERG/ASSOCIATED PRESS
The pandemic has been especially tough on low- and middle-income families, but the GOP Legislature in Ohio has given parents in their state something to be grateful for this Thanksgiving by passing a major expansion of private-school vouchers.
Legislation approved late last week expands eligibility for the state’s private-school scholarship program to families earning up to 250% of the poverty line from 200%. Students in schools where at least 20% of families are low-income or that fall in the bottom 20% of academic performance for the past two years would also be eligible. The bill awaits Gov. Mike DeWine’s signature.
Half of all students in Ohio would be eligible for a scholarship. Nearly 50,000 students already receive vouchers, which average around $4,500. That’s about a third as much as the state spends per pupil at public schools. Nonetheless, the teachers union and district superintendents claim without evidence that the voucher expansion will hurt public schools.
Their real concern is that more school choice will force more accountability by increasing competition. Several studies have found that academic performance improves at public schools in areas where more students qualify for vouchers, so even those who don’t receive scholarships may benefit from the Ohio legislation.
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It’s notable that Republicans this year performed better among minorities in states where they’ve expanded school choice. According to exit polls, about 40% of Hispanics voted for President Trump in Ohio and North Carolina, where the GOP Legislature in September pushed through an expansion of scholarships so more middle-class families could benefit.
A Biden Administration might try to limit school choice, but it will face strong resistance to its unions-first agenda in the states where Republicans next year will control the legislature. Republicans also have an opportunity to retake governorships in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan in 2022, and expanding school choice is a winner politically.
This article first appeared HERE.