RNC Convention Pushes Policies that Hurt Ohio Schools

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 26, 2020
Contact: Neil Bhaerman
               412-266-4899
              nbhaerman@oft-aft.org
 
RNC Convention Pushes Policies that Hurt Ohio Schools
 
Tonight, an Ohio supporter of private school voucher deductions addressed the Republican National Convention, continuing a theme that has been present all week.
 
In Ohio, private school voucher deductions have been draining school budgets statewide after policy changes that were attached to the most recent biennial budget drastically expanded the EdChoice voucher program. In total, Ohio school districts lost $289 million in voucher deductions in the current fiscal year, including $113 million deducted for EdChoice vouchers and $64 million deducted for the Peterson Special Needs vouchers, which were highlighted in the RNC speech.
 
Ohio Federation of Teachers President Melissa Cropper released the following statement in response:
 
“This week’s Republican Convention has made it clear that Donald Trump, Betsy DeVos, and their supporters have one signature education policy: to privatize public education and ignore the needs of the 90% of Ohio students who opt to attend public schools.
 
“Ohio’s public schools were unconstitutionally underfunded prior to the pandemic and the situation is more dire now that students’ needs have increased while local tax bases are declining. Yet, the majority in the Ohio legislature has followed Donald Trump’s lead and implemented an unsustainable expansion of Ohio’s voucher deductions, which is harming many school districts’ ability to adapt to the changing educational needs during the pandemic. School districts are now losing local funds to pay for vouchers  for students who never attended one day of public school, and a flawed report card system has classified more than 1200 school buildings as ‘low-performing,’ leaving them susceptible to voucher deductions. 
 
“Ohio schools need a constitutional funding formula. They need additional teachers and staff to be able to accommodate physical distancing and cleaning best practices to protect our students from COVID-19, they need technology so that students don’t get left behind when remote learning is a necessity, and they need more school nurses, counselors, and social workers. But most of all, Ohio students need a President, and Education Secretary, and a state legislature who won’t turn their back on public school students.”
 
Cleveland Heights Teachers Union President Karen Rego released the following statement:
 
“The Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District continues to be disproportionately harmed by the Trump-DeVos school privatization agenda. We are losing $7.2 million from our local funding this year, much of it for students who never intended to attend our public schools. It is adding insult to injury that the RNC is pushing private school vouchers as a panacea for improving education. Not only do voucher deductions make it harder for public school students to succeed, private schools that receive vouchers have worse education outcomes for students than comparable public schools, as revealed by recent reporting in the Cincinnati Enquirer.”
 
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The Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT) is composed of 55 local unions representing 20,000 members who are active and retired public school teachers, charter school teachers, school support staff, higher education faculty and staff, and public employees. OFT works to advance quality education and a voice in the workplace for Ohio’s education professionals. OFT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers.