As Vouchers Expand, Researcher Explores Textbooks Being Used in Unregulated Voucher Schools

Just as Ohio considers expanding its tuition voucher program, an in-depth report complied by Rebecca Klein appeared this week in the Huffington Post. Klein cautions about the curricula being used in many voucher supported, religious schools across the country. While the majority of Ohio students carry their tuition vouchers primarily to Catholic and Lutheran parochial schools and Jewish Day Schools, Klein’s in-depth report this week surveys the curricula adopted in private evangelical Christian schools nationwide where students are paying tuition with public tax dollars.

Here is how Klein conducted her investigation: “Several months ago, HuffPost set out to create a database of every private school in the country that receives taxpayer funding. We also tracked the religious affiliation of each school and looked at how many taught from… evangelical Christian textbooks… Our analysis found that about 75 percent of voucher schools across the country are religious—usually Christian or Catholic, with about 2 percent identifying as Jewish and 1 percent identifying as Muslim… Since a plurality of schools in these programs (42 percent) are non-Catholic Christian schools, we dove deeply into researching the curriculum of those schools. We searched their websites for information on curriculum sources and sent out emails to school leaders if they did not make their academic plan public. We did not assess Catholic schools, which made up 29 percent of Christian schools, since there is already a large body of research on the outcomes of students who go to these schools. Evangelical Christian schools are newer—many popped up only a few decades ago—and remain less scrutinized. Indeed, we found many of the non-Catholic Christian schools (32 percent) were using Abeka, Bob Jones or ACE textbooks in at least one subject or grade.”

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In Ohio, State Rep. Kyle Koehler’s bill to expand school vouchers may soon move to a vote of the state’s House of Representatives.  Koehler’s proposed legislation would consolidate three of Ohio’s school voucher plans into one bigger program and at the same time increase the number of students who are eligible

Here is Patrick O’Donnell of the Plain Dealer: “A plan to expand Ohio’s private school tuition voucher program to more middle class families could soon go to vote in the Ohio House, despite stalling out in the Senate earlier this year. House Bill 200, just like the earlier proposal in the Senate from State. Sen. Matt Huffman, would combine the three voucher programs Ohio has now—one with strict income requirements, one for students in ‘failing’ schools and one for only Cleveland residents—into a single program.  The new ‘Opportunity Scholarships’ would give families a state subsidy toward private school…

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