To the editor:

By what constitutional authority does Ohio deduct funds from school districts to fund charters and vouchers?

Federal and state officials and school choice apologists have played the choice card so skillfully that public school officials, employees and advocates are often reluctant to oppose tax-supported private school choice (as defined by the choice apologists.) The choice venues-charters and vouchers- at best, are less transparent, accountable and effective than the public common school system. The funds siphoned from school districts hurt district students and don’t help the students going to choice venues. Additionally, operating three systems of education at public expense is grossly inefficient.

School choice can be good. But the efficacy of choice is not the issue. The issue is: Is it rational and legal to publicly fund privately-operated choice programs? Is it rational and legal to reduce the capacity of the constitutionally-required public common school system?

Public school officials, employees and advocates should oppose private choice at the expense of public school students and the public system. Citizens are not entitled to a voucher from the parks and recreation department for country club dues or for any other recreational pursuits. Neither should public school funds be used to support private choice programs.

The state of Ohio has no authority to divert funds from the public common school system to private operators. The system of public education was declared unconstitutional four times two decades ago. Since 1999 the $15.9 billion removed from school districts for choice programs has exacerbated the conditions and factors that caused the court to declare the system unconstitutional.

William L. Phillis
Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding