New Ohio Governor Targets School Vouchers More states are enacting programs that use tax money to help parents meet tuition at private schools. But Ohio's new governor, Democrat Ted Strickland, wants to reduce the use of school vouchers. Teachers' unions support him. Many parents and students do not.
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New Ohio Governor Targets School Vouchers

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New Ohio Governor Targets School Vouchers

New Ohio Governor Targets School Vouchers

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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

Bill Cohen of Ohio Public Radio reports.

BILL COHEN: Now, new governor Ted Strickland, a Democrat, is proposing wiping out vouchers everywhere but Cleveland. He says, in tight budget times, Ohio cannot afford the $13 million spent each year on vouchers.

TED STRICKLAND: Wastefulness and giveaways can no longer be tolerated.

COHEN: Becky Jordan(ph) challenges the governor to meet her daughter.

BECKY JORDAN: I just want him to come and I want him to look at her face. And I want him to tell her that she can't go there anymore. That he's kicking her out of that school.

COHEN: Christen Manion(ph) now goes to a religious high school paid for by a voucher - that is by Ohio taxpayers. She says it's a great change, not just because of tougher academic standards.

CHRISTEN MANION: We have a chance to, kind of, be encased in a safety bubble to where we don't have to necessarily be part of the world and experience the trauma that so many students and so many people in public schools experience: drugs, sex, violence, guns.

COHEN: Governor Strickland says the solution is to get those problems out of the public schools, not siphon thousands of dollars away from them each time a student bails out.

STRICKLAND: The answer is not to allow only a few children to leave that school and take resources from that school and leave all of the other children back there in a failing school. Our goal must be to address the problems of the failing school.

COHEN: Darold Johnson lobbies for the Ohio Federation of Teachers. He says loopholes have allowed some scams.

DAROLD JOHNSON: Parents who never had a child in public schools, taking them out of private schools, put him into these low performing schools where they are weak, just so they get a voucher to send their child back to their private school they came from.

COHEN: Meanwhile, the American Federation of Teachers is hoping if vouchers can be rolled back in Ohio, the move will energize voucher foes across the country. Chuck Porcari speaks for the union.

CHUCK PORCARI: Because what it does is it sets a trend. Ohio is a bellwether state politically, in a lot of ways and a lot of issues nationally.

COHEN: For NPR News, I'm Bill Cohen in Columbus.

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