The legislation, House Bill 290, is known as the “Backpack Bill” for its plan of flexibility in which public dollars follow the students and parents if they choose private school or homeschooling.
If it becomes state law, the “Backpack Bill” would provide a scholarship program that gives $5,500 for students in grades K-5 and $7,500 for high school students in grades 9-12.
Critics of the legislation claim it would be hugely expensive and costly for Ohio taxpayers, and an attempt to pass the bill in 2021 failed.
According to news reports, state spending averages between $7,000 to $8,000 per student in Ohio's public schools, a cost of approximately $12.4 billion annually. That cost rises according to district expenses under a new funding formula introduced last year.
Per-student spending at Columbus City Schools, one of the largest in the state, with 110 schools and 48,759 students, is $15,924 annually, U.S. News reported.
John Temple, who pastors Trinity Community Church in Loudonville, tells AFN he supports public schools but the ultimate issue is accountability in education.
“It's just not a free reign to do as they feel,” he says, “but it's to work with the parent in the community to develop an overall plan that best suits our students and furthering the community."
Temple is among more than 100 clergy members who have signed their names to a letter sent to the Ohio General Assembly urging legislators to support the legislation.
Echoing the concern of many parents, Temple says public school classrooms have been taken over by far-left teachers who are bringing their liberals views into a classroom, which subjects the children to indoctrination and sets up a conflict with parents who object one-sided claims.
“They're coming in from outside the area with this new mindset,” he says, “and truly not understanding the community that they are teaching in."
The pastor says he is optimistic the bill will pass and be signed by the Republican governor, Mike DeWine.