It more than just a tad scary when the chief sponsor of the House version of Ohio's biennium budget (FYs 2012-13) which features (if passed in its current form) a quadrupling of the state's voucher program says that the only voucher program Ohio has is the Cleveland Public Schools program.
In the video that accompanies this blog, Republican Representative Ron Amstutz (who was as Christina Hagan's townhall meeting to help her with the tough questions) appears to have forgotten (certainly he knows, doesn't he?) that EdChoice Ohio exists which currently hands out 14,000 vouchers (err scholarships) for qualifying families to send their children to qualifying schools. Perhaps it is the word "scholarship" which lulled him into apparently losing track of EdChoice as voucher program.
In Stark County the EdChoice voucher qualifying list (according to the Ohio Department of Education) includes:
Under Amstutz's HB 153 the number of EdChoice vouchers available to Ohioans will increase from 14,000 to 60,000. Amstutz does question whether or not there are adequate safeguards/accountability for the use of taxpayer dollars for the vouchers but he appears to have no discomfort whatsoever with the dramatic expansion of the program.
Several citizens at the townhall focused on Akronite David Brennan and his White Hat Management, Inc charter school operation. One of the beneficiaries of Brennan political campaign contribution largess includes Representative Amstutz.
A recent Cleveland Plain Dealer article: Budget contains gift to charter school operator and GOP benefactor David Brennan, by Brent Larkin (last updated on May 9th) makes the following points about Brennan and White Hat:
- He operates 30 schools in Ohio and another 21 outside of Ohio; all but one have poor performance ratings
- Over the past 10 years Brennan and family members have contributed over $4 million to Ohio Republican candidates
- Ohio Speaker of the House Billy Batchelder has benefited from Brennan et al contributions in excess of $100,000 over the years
- In the 2010 year election cycle Brennan et al spread around some $400,000 in campaign contributions to Republicans including Governor John Kasich
- lifts the cap on the number of charter schools permitted
- allows "for-profit" companies to own and operate charter schools, and
- thereby takes from public view how taxpayer dollars are spent