The closure of COVID-19 schools disrupted student learning throughout Ohio and slowed academic progress. Early studies have already warned that many students can be delayed by one grade without interruption, and that lost years can dramatically reduce their lifetime income. But the crisis could have been worse.
Fortunately, the Ohio Parliament has recently taken some bold legislative steps to limit the damage.
For example, last month, the Ohio Senate broke bureaucratic formalism with a new program focused on fixing the fundamental inequality in current school selection programs and bridging learning gaps. Under the leadership of President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, the Senate has fixed a long-standing issue with Ohio’s income-based voucher program, the Ed Choice Scholarship.
Previously, low-income students could see a proportionally distributed loss of vouchers if their parents scraped a few extra dollars and their family’s income exceeded 250% of the federal poverty guidelines, and their siblings themselves. Was totally ineligible for income-based vouchers. Recent legislative efforts in the Senate have made these false policies by eliminating vouchers that make it clear that sibling students are mostly eligible for vouchers, even if the family’s income increases slightly. I’m done.
In resolving these issues, the Senate also ensured that thousands of eligible Ohio students maintain access to a new after-school child development program inspired by the Backeye Institute. If there were no changes to the law, the Ohio Department of Education would have collected Ohio ACE money that was credited to a new account for the 2021 academic year but was not used by the end of June 2022. The Senate led an effort to make the money available until it was eligible. Students graduate from high school.
These corrections earned the Ohio Senate a strong reputation on the report card before the summer vacation. But when the General Assembly returns this fall, more work is awaiting the General Assembly.
The legislature will need to raise the eligibility of Ohio ACE from 300 percent to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and the amount of money that can be placed in family accounts from $ 500 to $ 1,000. The first increase makes more students eligible for the program, and the second increase helps families provide additional learning services and educational resources. And state leaders need to reduce more bureaucratic formalism, which unnecessarily slows and complicates the ACE application process.
In addition, the General Assembly needs to adopt the #StudentsFirst approach to education reform and convert EdChoice scholarships into a broader education savings account. Such accounts maximize flexibility and allow families to fill the COVID-19 learning gap with the educational services their children need.
Finally, Ohio needs to raise its current $ 750 tax credit per dollar for scholarship awarding organizations to a maximum of $ 2,500. This provides additional incentives for private charities seeking to help low-income students access more educational options and opportunities.
President Huffman and the Senate Ohio helped prevent the bad situation from getting worse. And for that, the Ohio family should be grateful. However, more educational reforms will be needed to help students recover some of their learning losses and recover from the great turmoil of COVID. The Senate seems to be challenging.
Greg R. Lawson is a researcher at the Backeye Institute. His column does not necessarily reflect the views of the Lima News Editorial Board or AIM Media, the owner of Lima News.
Greg R. Lawson: Senate Ohio Helps Students Regain Learning Loss
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