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

Former Ohio Gov. George Voinovich touted his Cleveland voucher program in an Oct. 16, 1996 letter to the Archbishop of New York. He stated: ”You may be interested to know that Ohio’s choice pilot program in Cleveland is the first in the nation to include religious schools.”

Six months later, Voinovich wrote to Bishop Anthony Pilla, Diocese of Cleveland, indicating that, “We should really see if we can’t stimulate more support for a non-public school system.”

In that April 21, 1997 letter (written one month after the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Ohio’s public common school system unconstitutional), he mentioned he had recently met with several businessmen in Naples, Fla., many of whom like David Brennan, “are very committed to the scholarship school choice crusade.”

Indeed, Voinovich was on a mission to promote vouchers, not only in Ohio, but nationwide. The last paragraph of the April 21, 1997 letter states: “The point I am making is that we can do a lot more for non-public schools in the United States of America and I would like to help you get it done. I am going to be president of the National Governors’ Association beginning July of this year, and I would be willing to pitch in and do my part.”

Some crusaders for vouchers throughout the nation were contemporary with Voinovich; and many voucher zealots followed in the footsteps of early voucher campaigners.

In Ohio, a few zealous voucher campaigners have successfully initiated and expanded a half dozen different voucher schemes. Hundreds of millions have been drained from public school districts for vouchers that contravene the plain language of the Ohio Constitutional provisions for public education.

Part VI to follow.