Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I register for the CECV Virtual Workshop Series?
A: You can register on the Real Choice Ohio Website: www.realchoiceohio.com/workshops
Q: How much does the workshop cost?
A: The cost is $100 per district which includes up to 5 participants.
Q: How does the workshop series work?
A: The workshop series is completely virtual. All workshop content and materials can be found on this website. Once you have registered you will be granted access to each of the four pillars of the series (the locked pages on this website). After you register, make sure you check your email for further instructions and access to these pages.
Q: When does the workshop take place?
A: The workshop series will be released on Tuesday, May 26. On that day, pillar one will be released along with all the corresponding materials in that pillar. Each pillar will include a live component with a scheduled date and time (you can find this on each pillar's page). If you are unable to attend the live session, a recorded version will be posted the next day.
Pillar One - Overview of the EdChoice Challenge, Pillar Two - Student Retention and Return, and Pillar Three - Parent and Student Communication will be released this summer. Pillar Four - Maintaining Student Market Shares, will be released early Fall of 2020. Specific release dates for Piallrs two through four will be announced and communicated to all registrants in early June.
CECV Project Initiative FAQs
Q: Why are public schools so concerned about EdChoice vouchers?
A: Because Ohio’s politicians haven’t fixed the way we fund public schools for 30 years, those public schools literally pay for the school vouchers used to then pay for private school tuition. When a student in a public school district gets an EdChoice voucher, that student’s public school district pays $4,650 toward tuition for kindergarten through eighth grade and $6,000 toward private high school tuition.
In January, Ohio school districts lost $338.6 million that was shifted to private school vouchers. That’s $62 million more than last year because new state laws have dramatically and recklessly expanded the number of public schools subject to paying for vouchers. Some of the state’s top-performing districts – think Solon or Upper Arlington – now have “failing” schools, because pro-voucher legislators rigged the system.
It’s also important to understand that this isn’t the public schools’ money. It’s the taxpayers’ money. More Ohioans than ever now are paying for private school tuition with their public dollars. And no Ohioan has ever voted to do that. And it’s not just vouchers. All the giveaways to private schools will top $700 million this year. That’s more than was spent on Ohio vouchers for the first 16 years of their existence.
Q: But wait a minute. If the student is leaving a public school district for a private school, then all the costs for that student are shifting to the private school as well. How is the public school losing in that scenario?
A: First, the costs for teachers, buildings, utilities, etc., don’t decrease when a student leaves by using a voucher. Those costs stay. But the money that came with that student is gone. Second, and even more dramatically, the new state laws removed the requirement that a high school student attended a public school the year before if the student is applying for a voucher for the first time.
In the Cleveland Heights-University Heights school district alone, applications for high school vouchers increased 478% in a single year with the district’s voucher bill increasing by about $3 million.
As one observer put it, “Cleveland Heights isn’t losing any students. They are just losing money.”
Q: But if you limit the voucher system, aren’t you penalizing the students from less wealthy families who can’t afford private school tuition? Put more simply: Why can’t poor kids have what rich kids have?
A: Ultimately, all students deserve an equal opportunity for quality education. The whole concept of public education is bringing a community together to fund the best quality education all of its residents, together, can provide. When you take money that was always intended to pay for public education away from that public school system to pay for private school tuition, you may be further hurting the students still in the public schools. Under the expanded voucher system, well-off families – families making more than $100,000 a year – can qualify for vouchers.
In many cases, we’re now taking precious resources away from poor kids to give to well-off families.
Q: What about the parents who say they’re paying taxes. So, it’s their money. And if it’s used to send their kids to private school, so be it.
A: We should all respect a family’s decision to educate children in a private or parochial school. And that decision then should be paid for with private funds – not money paid by taxpayers for public schools.
Proponents of voucher expansion say that this is really the students’ money and it should follow them wherever they go, even if it’s to a private school. However, the money meant for public schools comes from all taxpayers – including millions who have no school-age children but care about having quality public schools. It’s no one single person or family’s money. It’s our money. So it should be spent on a school system open to everyone.
Q: If ultimately the kids who shift to private schools get a better education, doesn’t that benefit society – and justify the voucher expansion?
A: In 8 out of 10 communities where there are voucher schools, [HS1] [SD2] students in the public school districts outperform the voucher schools in their community by 27 percentage points on average. Even in communities where voucher schools do better, they only do better by 9 percentage points. That’s not a meaningful statistical difference – and it comes at a potential cost to millions of public school students.
Even the Fordham Institute – a pro-voucher organization – found in a study of Ohio’s EdChoice vouchers that students who take vouchers perform worse on state tests than similar students who do not take the voucher.
Q: If I’m concerned about EdChoice voucher expansion, what should I do?
A: State legislators have put off the sign-up period for next year’s vouchers by 60 days. By contacting your local legislators, hosting community forums, using social media, writing letters to the editor, you can help stand for public education. It’s been more than 10,000 days since the lawsuit that determined the way we fund schools was unconstitutional was filed. We need legislators to fix school funding overall and to stop taking money meant for students in public schools to give it to private schools who are unaccountable for those public dollars
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How the Ohio Voucher Program is Affecting Your District
By Stephen Dyer
Ohio voucher programs take a serious toll on opportunities for school district students. Seven districts lose over $200 per district pupil. 40 districts lose more than $100 per district pupil. 57 districts lose more than $60 per district pupil.
Steve Dyer’s analysis shows the district-by-district losses in 432 school districts across Ohio.
**To download the full report, click the PDF icon below
Newsweek opinion: Betsy DeVos is looting public schools
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos violates federal policy in her zeal to privatize public education.
Education professors Abe Feuerstein and Sue Ellen Henry, in a June 3 Newsweek opinion, discuss some of her capers.
School funding bill to get new look under new speaker
By Susan Tebben, August 20, 2020
A school funding bill originally sponsored by new Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp is getting a fresh look and hopefully time in front of legislative committees before year’s end, according the legislator now heading up the bill.
The other original sponsor of the proposed legislation, state Rep. John Patterson, said a substitute bill is in the works that should touch on longstanding concerns the Ohio Supreme Court had about the constitutionality of the state’s education system.
“We’re taking a more balanced approach in the new bill,” Patterson, D-Jefferson, said.
The state’s contribution to education budgets has stagnated over time, while private schools have benefitted from the EdChoice scholarship program, in which some state funding for public school districts has been redirected to religious, charter and community schools.
EdChoice scholarships were frozen at current levels in an omnibus bill responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
State Rep. John Patterson, D-Jefferson.
Patterson said a substitute version of House Bill 305 seeks to address “overarching criticisms” of the original bill, and the education system itself. One of the major criticisms is the distribution of money in the school funding formula between school districts with varying financial situations.
“Under the current formula, districts are all interconnected, so as one district becomes wealthier, another becomes poorer,” Patterson told the Ohio Capital Journal.
So, in the new plan co-sponsored this time by Rep. Gary Scherer, R-Circleville, the legislators want to reassess the amount that districts are able to raise on their own before they decide what the amount of state aid would be to schools.
The proposed bill would also take the weight solely off of property taxes for school funding, something the 1997 decision by the Ohio Supreme Court in DeRolph v. State of Ohio ruled was a big reason the education system violated the state constitution.
The new plan will combine property and income taxes along with a calculation of a district’s wealth level to “determine a district’s true capacity to raise its fair share,” according to Patterson.
“The question is what is fair for the locals, and what is fair for the state,” Patterson said. “We have fine-tuned for that.”
Disadvantaged students would receive more immediate help than in previous funding models if the new bill is made law. In the original proposal for the bill, aid would have been phased in over time for school districts, but legislators are now looking to channel that aid to districts immediately.
Patterson planned to meet with interested parties — teachers’ unions, public school officials and community school representatives on Tuesday to discuss the plan. One of those parties is the Ohio Federation of Teachers, who said school funding needs a direction that accounts for social and emotional learning as well as test proficiency.
“We’re hopeful that (the sponsors) are moving in the right direction,” said OFT executive director Melissa Cropper. “No school funding formula will be perfect, but having no school funding formula has been a disaster.”
In the next month, simulations of financial situations will be run to test the effectiveness of the bill as it stands, and Patterson hopes the bill will be ready when the Ohio House returns to regular session in September.
After anticipated amendments and passage of the bill, Patterson said implementation of the new formula could take years.
With EdChoice pitting private schools and public schools against each other for funding in the state model, Patterson said concerns were brought from both sides, and his bill plans to address private school issues as well.
“What I’ll say is we have heard their criticism and have addressed their concerns in the substitute bill,” Patterson. “I think they’re going to be pleased.”
The changes made to the bill Cupp once authored have the blessing of the new speaker, according to Patterson.
“Speaker Cupp understands the absolute necessity of passing House Bill 305 in this General Assembly,” Patterson said.
Neither Cupp nor Scherer responded to requests for comment.
**Sources from Ohio Capital Journal: https://ohiocapitaljournal.com/2020/08/20/school-funding-bill-to-get-new-look-under-new-speaker/
National Conversation: Reimagining back-to-school amid COVID-19
Brought to you by K12 Insight
Everything has changed. As a school leader, the thought of heading back to school (whatever that looks like now) raises a host of burning questions:
What will happen to school budgets next year?
If school buildings open, will we still practice social-distancing?
How do we ensure equity and employee morale in this new normal?
What resources exist to continue to serve community needs?
What role will distance learning play in all this?
To provide clarity amid the chaos and uncertainty wrought by COVID-19, The American Association of School Administrators teamed with K12 Insight to host a candid Crystal Ball session featuring school district superintendents and leaders from across the country.
Watch as AASA Executive Director Dr. Dan Domenech and former school district superintendent Dr. Gerald Dawkins host this forward-thinking virtual discussion. School leaders will address critical issues keeping them up at night and brainstorm practical solutions while anticipating future challenges.
Returning to the Classroom: How to Communicate Your District’s Plan to Reopen
Brought to you by Hennes Communication
By Nora Jacobs, Hennes Communication
School districts across the county are about to turn the page on an historic chapter in American history. Students spent almost a third of the school year going to class at the kitchen table. Teachers learned to become adept purveyors of distance-learning. Parents quickly became tutors and taskmasters while balancing the demands of their own remote worksites. There were no proms. No end-of-year intramural athletic competitions. No graduation parties. For seniors, there was no closure. For younger students, no clear path forward – at this point – regarding plans for the fall.
District boards and administrative staffs across the country weeks ago began the herculean task of preparing for the fall semester in an environment no one can clearly envision. Will COVID-19 be in remission at that point? Will the government – meaning all 50 state governments – allow in-person classroom instruction? Will students attend school in shifts? What about school buses? What about sports and extracurriculars?
Districts are wrestling with the logistics of creating new learning spaces that incorporate social distancing. Establishing protocols for enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols. Considering rules for face masks. Looking at cafeteria setups and break rooms for faculty. The list of tasks will be long. One item that needs to be on that list is communications.
No doubt your district has significantly stepped up its communications during the past weeks and months. In the early days of COVID-19, your communication team probably learned quickly that more communication worked better than less. Telling what you knew when you knew instilled confidence; going silent did not. This was the time to embrace transparency, admit to not having all the answers and promising to share more when you could.
Now is the time to take those learnings and turn them into a communications action plan for the fall. Here are some of the strategies and tactics to consider as your district’s communicators begin that work.
How is your district fielding parent and community questions and concerns? Do you have a method? How are you using your website? Is it always up to date? Or is there language on the home page referring to something that happened two months ago or an upcoming event that was subsequently cancelled? How is your district using email and social media?
As your district’s plan begins to gel, your team should look for every opportunity to employ transparency and timeliness. Tell people what you know right now. Tell them what you don’t yet (but are working to figure out). And, tell them what the process is going to be going forward.
By doing this, by engaging in an extraordinary level of transparency, even when the district doesn’t have all the answers or even when you make a mistake, you will build trust. And a reservoir of trust will be one of the most important commodities your district can have as our country begins the new school year next fall. Here are some other points to consider during the great gift of advance planning time you will have in the coming weeks:
Does your communications plan have enough detail? Does it identify the precise dates when you will complete specific tasks so you’re strategically using the summer months to talk to parents, students, teachers and staff?
Is your messaging consistent? Are teachers, assistants, front office staff and school board members all saying the same thing?
Have board members settled on and shared talking points so that the message from the district is consistent?
If your district uses email as its primary communication tool, consider fine-tuning your distribution process. Consider sending out two versions of your email messages: one with hyperlinks; the other without. If you have students and parents without easy access to broadband, it makes little sense to send them emails loaded with hyperlinks or multi-page PDFs.
You should prepare to reach out regularly over the summer to staff, students, parents, vendors and community leaders to let them know the details of your preliminary reopening plans. With the avalanche of pandemic news over the last few months, your audiences will welcome positive news – no matter how general.
You need to talk about how your reopening plans – and ongoing operating plans – will follow specific requirements from your governor’s office, your state department of health, your state department of education, state and city boards of health, and perhaps the CDC.
Post details of your reopening plans everywhere – on your district’s intranet, in your e-newsletters, on your blogs and on the private social media groups you participate in. And don’t forget more traditional avenues such as the local newspaper.
For the foreseeable future, your most important stakeholders – students, parents, teachers and staff – will have one overriding concern: safety. How are you addressing that concern in your communications? It will be very important to keep talking and writing about the safety measures you’re putting in place, and overcommunicate new policies and procedures.
Consider using Facebook Live to SHOW (and not just TELL) stakeholders what you’re doing. Use teachers or staff to “take” stakeholders into the schools to show everyone exactly how you’ll enforce social distancing and practice enhanced cleaning methods. Consider doing updates as your plans progress.
In the broadest sense, key elements of communicating about your safe schools should include:
Honesty – Be forthright about what’s worked and what hasn’t. Explain what you’re doing, what you’re not doing and what the process is going to be going forward.
Attitude – You should exude confidence. Not with arrogance, but in recognition of the fact that operating a successful school district that serves the needs of every student is a highly complicated endeavor and you are experienced in doing that.
Decision-Making – Don’t promise perfection. Rather, explain your decisions to stakeholders. Correct evident errors or oversights promptly.
Empathy – Show empathy. Acknowledge the stress everyone is under. There is probably nothing more important to communicate right now than a sense of concern and humanity.
Preparing for the Future – COVID-19 might come back in the fall and schools might need to re-close. What plans are you making for that?
Finally, remember that communications plans are not evergreen documents. They must be reviewed and updated regularly to address emerging issues, new protocols and new concerns. Never will this golden rule be more true than during the 2020-2021 school year. You will want to adjust the methods you are using to communicate and perhaps add some new ones. You will want to consider what other districts are doing to reach their stakeholders and adopt some of their ideas.
Most important, you will want to hear from parents, teachers, staff and students and adjust your plan to address their needs. These are your stakeholders and they are looking to you for leadership during a time that no one has led us through before.
For more information and resources visit: www.crisiscommunications.com, 216-321-7774.