On Thursday, Oct. 5, members of the Office of Catholic Education gathered at St. Dominic School in Shaker Heights in gratitude to those who worked tirelessly for the passage of Universal School Choice legislation in Ohio, specifically House Bill 33.
House Bill 33 expanded the already existing Ohio EdChoice Scholarship Program, allowing all families to now qualify for a state tuition scholarship according to their family size and income. Universal School Choice has not only made private Catholic school tuition more affordable for all families, but reaffirms a core belief of Catholic education—parents are a child’s primary educator, and therefore have a right to choose the school best for their son or daughter without undue burden.
Honored guests included Ohio Senate President Matthew Huffman, along with senators Jerry Cirino and Sandra O’Brien. After first touring St. Dominic School and meeting joyful students and dedicated staff members, senators heard directly from Catholic school principals and parents on exactly how the EdChoice Scholarship makes attending a Catholic school more feasible for many students now.
Dr. Frank O’Linn, Secretariat for Catholic Education, shared that enrollment in Catholic schools throughout the Diocese increased by 1.2% from last year. Given that House Bill 33 passed just a short while ago in July, this increase is a tremendously hopeful sign for how Universal School Choice empowers parents to access Catholic schools for their children.
Senators Huffman, Cirino, and O’Brien all recounted stories of their own connection to Catholic schools. Whether attending a Catholic school themselves, or witnessing the impact a Catholic school has in the lives of their children or grandchildren, Catholic schools shaped their perspectives on the importance of school choice options for parents. While not the sole determining factor, education is nonetheless vitally important to a child’s success.
Both Senator Cirino and Senator O’Brien credited Senator Huffman for his invaluable leadership in moving school choice legislation forward. Ever humble, Senator Huffman acknowledge that House Bill 33 was but one step in the important work of ensuring Ohio parents have high-quality educational options for their children. It’s clear that much work remains to be done, but the foundation of Universal School Choice has been expertly laid.