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Published: Friday, 11/18/2011

School, legislative leaders speak out against voucher bill


Toledo public school officials and advocates spoke out Friday against a proposed expansion of private school vouchers in Ohio, calling the bill an attack on public education.

State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo), Toledo Public Schools officials, union leaders, and Toledo Board of Education members assailed House Bill 136 and called for its defeat. The bill expands school vouchers to all school districts, regardless of the academic performance, and would eventually give funding to students already in private schools.

The opponents of the bill who gathered at Martin Luther King, Jr. Academy for Boys on Forest Avenue said the bill will divert needed funds from public schools to private institutions that can reject students, setting up a two-tiered school system that would possibly violate the Ohio constitution.

“This is an extreme bill that will crush public education as we know it,” Ms. Fedor said.

Under Ohio’s current voucher law, students can only be eligible for a voucher if their public school has been rated in academic emergency or academic watch for two of the past three years. The new bill would eliminate those academic restrictions, and allow anyone to be eligible for vouchers, as long as their family income was less than $95,000.

Bill opponents argued Friday that private schools can reject students, and the new bill would possibly leave public schools with less funds for special education students and those with behavioral problems, who are often more expensive to educate.

“Where is the equal, free school system for all?” board member Brenda Hill asked. “We will lose it.”

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