High Court's Voucher Decision Will Have Huge Impact

CLEVELAND – Parents dropped their children off at Metro Catholic Parish School on Wednesday morning like any other school day, but they knew it was different.

That's because the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday started to hear arguments that could drastically affect the lives of many local students and parents. It will decide by mid-summer whether to strike down Cleveland's controversial 6-year-old voucher program, 19/43 News' Harry Boomer reported.

"My daughter Christy goes here, and she's on the voucher program, and it helps out a lot," Metro Catholic voucher dad Mike Fischbach said. "We hope they keep it."

"With my divorce it keeps me to be able to send them to a Catholic school," Metro Catholic voucher mom Rebecca Dugan said. "It helps out tremendously."

The religious component is a problem for those opposed to vouchers. They have said that it violates the church and state provisions of the Ohio and U.S. constitutions.

Another problem, according to Caitlin Scott of Catalyst Magazine, is that on average there's only one voucher school within a one-mile radius for African-American students.

"For white and Hispanic students, there were many more choices," Scott said. "About half of those families had three or more choices."

The program was originally touted as the answer for poor inner-city children to give their parents the same choices as more affluent residents. Pleased voucher mom Beverly Russell said that it's working for her son.

"He loves school," Russell said. "Actually, he now has a goal set for perfect attendance."

Opponents of the voucher program have said that there are hidden costs. One example they cite is that the Cleveland Municipal School District, the governing body of the city's public schools, still must transport voucher students even though their parents spend the $2,250 voucher at private institutions.