Group opposing school choice in Ohio attacks West Virginia’s voucher program

(The Center Square) – An Ohio group that has been fighting against school choice vouchers in its own state is expressing support for a lawsuit that is seeking to halt a West Virginia school voucher program.

As Ohio lawmakers have considered legislation to expand school choice, the group called Vouchers Hurt Ohio stated that lawmakers are looking at other states, such as West Virginia, for how to craft their school choice programs.

“We have been concerned about West Virginia because the Ohio sponsors of a universal voucher program have indicated they looked next door for inspiration for their proposal,” the group stated. “Well in West Virginia, the private school voucher program lacks accountability and oversight and even gives vouchers for home schooling. Now that is an idea ripe for scandal and taxpayer ripoffs.”

Three parents filed a lawsuit earlier this year in an attempt to halt West Virginia’s Hope Scholarship Program. The lawsuit is backed by the Public Funds Public Schools campaign, which is supported by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group alleged the program violates the state constitution and diverts funding away from public schools.

However, many of the bill’s supporters in West Virginia have argued the program will increase options for students, rather than treat education as one size fits all. The program sets up education savings accounts, which allow parents to apply for scholarships that allow them to use public money to send their children to private schools, rather than public schools. The vouchers are worth up to $4,600 per year and would have otherwise been spent on public education costs.

“This program is designed to empower families to pursue and purchase resources that their children need,” Andrew Bambrick, the education outreach coordinator at the free-market Cardinal Institute, told The Center Square.

“This may include private school tuition, courses at a public school, or curriculum and therapy services,” Bambrick said. “Every child is different, and the Hope Scholarship is not for everyone. But the families and students who participate in the program are going to be able to invest in their education like never before and all participants are ready to take full advantage of the opportunity afforded to them through Hope.”

West Virginia has awarded more than 3,000 scholarships for this program for the upcoming school year.