It's official! Late last week, Governor Bob Taft signed the Buckeye State's biennial budget into law, including a significant statewide voucher program known as the Ohio Educational Choice Scholarship Pilot Program (see here for previous discussion of the program). It will provide 14,000 vouchers for kids in schools labeled in "academic emergency" for three consecutive years starting in 2006, making it the largest program based on academic achievement in the country to date. Said Karen Tabor, a spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Jon Husted, "This is a commitment that needed to be made, providing Ohio parents and children with more choices in education." Voucher programs were greatly debated around the country this legislative season, mostly with little to show for it; proposals to start programs foundered in Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, and Utah (save for a smallish program aimed at students with disabilities), while an attempt to expand Milwaukee's program also foundered (see here). Gadfly wishes the nationwide outcome had been more positive, but he'll sleep a little easier knowing that more kids in his home state will have better choices thanks to the hard work of Speaker Husted, Governor Taft, and the members of the legislature.
"Voucher program expanding," by Scott Elliott, Dayton Daily News, July 3, 2005
"Ohio to launch largest voucher program," by Sarah Anderson, Associated Press, July 2, 2005