EdChoice program is responsible in Ohio | News, Sports, Jobs


MR. EDITOR:

Students who receive EdChoice scholarships benefit from Ohio’s system of regulation and accountability for school choice programs.

Ohioans rely on statutory and administrative codes to ensure that all schools meet basic quality standards for students.

Liability is a central issue in a lawsuit filed against the state over the constitutionality of the EdChoice scholarship program. The lawsuit alleges that non-public school providers are not responsible for the state dollars they receive. This assertion is incorrect. School providers are responsible to the State and to the families of scholarship recipients.

EdChoice providers are schools accredited by the state Board of Education to – at the very least – provide a high quality general education. Schools must either complete the charter process directly with the state or be accredited by associations in which their standards are reviewed by the state superintendent’s advisory committee on state-licensed and approved non-public schools .

State operating standards for EdChoice providers are the same or substantially similar to those of public schools. Other mandatory provisions of the statutory and administrative code are mandatory state assessments, including third-year reading guarantee and graduation tests, course content requirements, health and safety standards , required teaching hours, anti-discrimination provisions and mandatory background checks.

Additionally, EdChoice vendors follow a rigorous application process with the Ohio Department of Education, which monitors compliance of records related to school buildings, staff, volunteers, admissions policies, fire inspections and food service licensing. Schools are required to make these records available for compliance reviews, announced or unannounced, by state employees.

But it’s not just compliance that holds non-public scholarship programs accountable. EdChoice and other scholarship programs provide parents with a meaningful way to hold schools accountable for their children’s education. If the parents are not satisfied, they are entitled to leave, with their funding.

Ultimately, EdChoice providers are most directly accountable to the students and parents for whom they serve.

Let us remember that these providers are non-public schools that raise public funds – not by default – but only when parents independently exercise their educational choice. Additionally, scholarship funds cover only a portion of the total cost of student education. As such, they should not be regulated exactly as public schools are. After all, for parents to have a diversity of school choice options, non-public schools should not be mirror images of public schools.

LARRY KEOUGH

Legislative lawyer

for catholic schools



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Ryan H. Bowman