- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 21, 2007

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland has some explaining to do. He plans to gut the state’s school-voucher program, ending a two-year statewide experiment building upon 12 years of vouchers in the city of Cleveland.

Through EdChoice, 2,829 students around the country receive vouchers to attend private and parochial schools instead of failing local public ones. But Mr. Strickland now intends to send those students back to those crummy public schools, allegedly as an act of fiscal prudence. How insulting. The savings: $13 million, in a two-year budget totalling $52 billion.

Mr. Strickland should explain to these thousands of students why their education is not worth a tiny fraction of the state budget. He should explain why he and other Democratic stewards managed to find additional money for half the state agencies that squealed for more after the budget’s unveiling last month, as the Associated Press reported. The squeal money includes $2.6 million to fund Department of Commerce mortgage-broker applicants’ background checks and, as the AP also reported, $50,000 for the Ohioana Library Association, whose trustees include Mr. Strickland’s wife, Frances. Mr. Strickland also managed to find $2.5 million to install soy biodiesel tanks and pumps at Ohio gas stations. The list goes on.

The governor should explain why students who happen to live in Akron, Cincinnati, Columbus or Dayton do not deserve the same opportunities as those in Cleveland. They are allowed to continue to participate in the state’s 12-year-old voucher program.

The farce of the “not enough money” line is belied by the size and scope of spending, none of which unduly punishes Mr. Strickland’s allies or deals similar death blows to programs used by groups who vote. Take teachers’ unions. This budget may not be a dream for those union bosses, but it nevertheless contains several hundred million more dollars for public schools — slated to receive a 3 percent annual budget increase. Or seniors. The budget funds burgeoning Medicaid costs. Seniors vote, remember.

Mr. Strickland is better advised to admit the truth: This is a cave-in to jealous teachers’ unions. The unions make no secret of their hatred for vouchers, which lose funding when pupils decamp for private or parochial schools where their future prospects greatly improve. Democrats like Mr. Strickland need to pay some kind of dividend to these unions once they help propel party members to office. It’s bad policy that Mr. Strickland would kill a voucher program at their behest. But it is also shocking and unconscionable that he would try to pass it off as “fiscal restraint.” Tell that to the voucher recipients he just robbed of a decent education.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide