The ‘backpack bill’ is back on the table in Ohio

Published: May. 9, 2023 at 7:03 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The debate over school choice has been reignited, as the ‘backpack bill’ reemerges in Ohio.

People against the bill say it goes against Ohio’s constitution. Local public school staff and leaders attended a gathering Tuesday night to discuss their thoughts.

Many believe the EdChoice scholarship or “vouchers” do more bad than good.

“The vouchers hurt our communities, they hurt our teachers, they hurt our staff, but most of all they hurt kids,” said Washington Local School Superintendent, Dr. Kadee Anstadt. “They take away funding from our public schools.

“Just this year alone, over $35,000 in tuition and fees owed to local private schools to receive their transcripts after taking a voucher and deciding the school wasn’t for them for one reason or another,” said TPS Board Member Polly Taylor-Gerken.

Ann Riddle, director of provider outreach for school choice Ohio, believes it’s only logical to allow parents the freedom to enroll their children in the school they believe best suits their child.

“Why let them stay in a situation where they are continually failing in, rather than find what’s best for them so they can bloom, and become the best person they were intended to be,” said Riddle.

With school choice, the funding that typically goes to a school district for that child will follow them to a private school of their choice. All of the money given to scholarship recipients are state-funded. No local tax dollars go to school vouchers, all of the money stays in the community.

“So if they lose numbers, they still have the local money, which represents about 43 percent of what it costs to educate a student in Ohio,” said Riddle.

For a lot of families, Ed-choice is empowering knowing their children will be getting an education aligned with their values. Jennifer Kuntz is the mother of three children currently utilizing the school choice scholarships.

“Finding EdChoice and realizing we had options that would help keep our kids in an environment that valued the same things that we did was wonderful.”

Kuntz and her family utilized the school voucher system to find the right fit for all of their children, and their individual needs.

“My youngest was struggling to read, and so we needed somebody to come alongside us and I don’t know what it would look like. I’m thankful I don’t have to know that,” Kuntz said.

With a court battle set for this year, both sides will continue to fight it out, soon, in front of a judge.

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