By Neil Bhaerman
Communications Director
Ohio Federation of Teachers


This week, Feb. 24-28, is Public Schools Week, a national celebration of and recommitment to the public schools that serve nine out of ten children in Ohio and the U.S.

In Ohio, Public Schools Week comes amid a time of uncertainty and apprehension for public school districts across Ohio due to the looming vouchers expansion deadline on April 1. Without decisive action from the legislation, public school districts across the state will suffer huge budget shortfalls from unfunded voucher deductions for students who had never enrolled or intended to enroll in their district.

Over the past two weeks, public school teachers, administrators, parents, students, and community allies testified during the conference committee on HB 9. Witness after witness spoke about the extensive, effective work being done in their schools and testified about the unfairness of the current voucher program which is based upon a flawed report card system. They also consistently supported the remedies that were in the House version of SB 89, which would transition most voucher recipients from the performance-based voucher to the income-based voucher.

Ohio Federation of Teachers President Melissa Cropper released the following statement today to the press, and emailed a similar message to OFT’s full membership:

OFT thanks all the public education advocates who traveled to Columbus in the past two weeks to testify during the conference committee on HB 9. The high level of activism from public school teachers, administrators, parents, students, and community allies is what gives me hope that we can reach a just resolution to this funding crisis.

In spite of the increasing challenges that our students bring to the classroom, the lack of adequate funding, and the often arbitrary expectations set by the state, our members work hard to meet our students’ education needs and help them succeed. But our broken report card system continues to misidentify schools as failing, and, as a result, schools are losing much needed resources to private vouchers.

After hearing the challenges our schools are facing and the quality programming and personnel that are being put in place to address these challenges, our legislators should be ready to put more funding into schools instead of funneling money to private schools.

We appreciate the efforts of the House to take the funding burden off resource-strapped districts by shifting the responsibility for vouchers to the state. The proposals in SB 89 will stop the expansion of performance-based vouchers by moving students to an income-based voucher paid for by the state. In the process, no student will lose a voucher. This seems like the most reasonable solution to the current situation.

As we celebrate Public School Week, we urge our legislators to honor the work of our public school educators and support our public school system by adopting the proposals in SB 89. We also call on Governor DeWine to show leadership on the issue by guiding the legislature to a resolution that protects funding for our local school districts.


The Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT) is comprised of more than 50 local unions representing 20,000 members who are active and retired public school teachers, charter school teachers, school support staff, higher education faculty and staff, and public employees. OFT works to advance quality education and a voice in the workplace for Ohio’s education professionals. OFT is affiliated with the 1.7 member American Federation of Teachers.