Myths and Facts About School Vouchers

MYTH #5: Cleveland Vouchers Provide an Escape Hatch for Children Trapped in Failing Public Schools

FACT: Most Cleveland voucher students never attended the city's public schools, and many of those who did were not attending "failing" public schools.

Last year, an Ohio research institute reviewed information from the voucher program's application forms and what it found was stunning: 79 percent of the students receiving state tuition aid through the voucher program had never attended a Cleveland public school or were already attending a private school.21

For those voucher students who can be traced back to the public schools, relatively few of them were actually attending failing schools. Catalyst for Cleveland Schools, a nonpartisan organization that reports on reform efforts, examined the 10 public schools that have lost the most students to vouchers. The Catalyst found that these 10 Cleveland public schools were more likely than other schools to have student test scores above the district average-in some cases, even above the state average.22 Additionally, six of these 10 public schools were classified among the district's "empowered" schools, chosen for overall excellence.23 While voucher advocates talk a lot about "choice," a closer look at these 10 public schools reveals that they-combined with the district's other schools-offer parents a wide variety of options. For example, nearly half of these 10 schools are magnet schools at which teachers and staff have developed specialized programs and curricula.24

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