A lot of ink has, of late, been spilled about education policy in Ohio, and for good reason. Recently, poorly conceived voucher and school accountability policies spectacularly collided, and Ohio lawmakers were forced to act quickly to forestall an exponential increase in voucher eligibility. On Jan. 30, lawmakers passed an extension on the start time of the EdChoice expansion, attempting to fix some of the problems raised by educators and citizens. As of this writing, legislators have not yet agreed on a long-range fix.
In our view, it pays to start asking larger questions about EdChoice to understand how education policy is made in Ohio. Why, for instance, did this dramatic increase in voucher eligibility occur? Why would lawmakers experiment with such an expensive initiative, when studies of such voucher programs – including a rigorous study of EdChoice - have most often revealed large, negative impacts on student learning? And, in what universe does it make sense that schools would be judged, and voucher eligibility triggered, by students’ scores in 2013 and 2014 (but not 2015-2017)?