Two of Ohio’s top teachers unions are asking the governor to veto a new education bill just passed by the legislature.
The Ohio Senate and House passed Senate Bill 89 last week after it spent months in a conference committee being revised and developed into a bill that, among other things, focuses on the private school voucher program, EdChoice.
The bill passed along partisan lines in both houses of the legislature, with Republican supporters saying the bill was necessary to keep the list of EdChoice eligible schools from ballooning to more than 1,200, and to address one of the biggest barriers to education — poverty.
Democrats challenged the idea that the bill was a solution to the state’s problems, and accused supporters of pushing the bill through without the appropriate amount of public input.
The leader of the Ohio Education Association said the current version of SB 89 “removes positive aspects of the bill passed by the House and increases voucher eligibility beyond 2020-2021 levels.”
“By grandfathering in previously voucher-eligible students, whether they had used the vouchers or not, SB 89 fails to curb the destructive explosion of the voucher program, contrary to proponents’ claims,” wrote OEA President Scott DiMauro in a statement. “There was no compromise and no consultation with the education community to strike the deal that was passed out by the conference committee.”
Melissa Cropper, head of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, said the bill would only exacerbate the already dire school funding crisis.
“SB 89 throws more fuel on the fire without providing remedies to ensure that the 90% of Ohio students who attend public schools have the resources they need for a quality education,” Cropper said.
The bill also comes as the House and Senate consider companion bills to overhaul the education system entirely, in response to a decades-old Ohio Supreme Court case that called the system wholly unconstitutional.
DiMauro and Cropper both said if the governor doesn’t veto SB 89, “it is more critical than ever” that House Bill 305 be passed to directly fund charter schools and the voucher program.
Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.