Listen to Ohio's media and we'll forgive you for thinking the Buckeye State's new voucher program is going down in flames. After all, newspapers are giving lots of ink to low initial student sign-ups for the program-so far 2,600 of the 14,000 available vouchers have been spoken for (there will be another sign-up period in late July and early August). Worse, news hounds are reading that a few public and private school parents are gaming the system and receiving vouchers for unqualified children. Cue Paul Harvey: "And now, for the rest of the story." Enrollment numbers are low, but two cities where vouchers are extremely popular-Milwaukee and Washington, D.C.-did even worse their first year out the gate. As for system gamers, the Ohio Department of Education and state legislators are working to close the legal loopholes that allowed that foul play. Plus, a little compassion is in order for the perpetrators. After all, these are low-income families just trying to get a decent education for their children. The fact that some of them may already be attending private schools doesn't mean they can afford to keep their kids there unaided. While Ohio goes through voucher growing pains, the media needs to remember there's more, much more, to the story. More important, the media's readers need to keep in mind that they're being fed just a portion of the story.
"2nd School Voucher Sign-up Offered," by Scott Elliott, Dayton Daily News, June 13, 2006
"Voucher Applicants Sparse," by Jennifer Mrozowski, Cincinnati Enquirer, June 10, 2006
"Vouchers Abused, State Says," by Jennifer Smith Richards, Columbus Dispatch, June 7, 2006