Vouchers pass Indiana Senate

Indiana’s Senate has passed a school voucher bill that includes tuition aid for middle-income families. The bill has passed the House in similar form. Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels is a strong supporter.

Under the plan, a family of four earning less than $41,000 a year would be eligible for a tuition voucher of up to $4,500 for grades 1-8, and up to $4,964 for high school.

A family of four with an income between $41,000 and $61,000 would be eligible for a voucher of up to $2,758 for all grades.

Some 7,500 vouchers will be available in the fall, with 15,000 vouchers available for 2012-13.

The Senate changed the legislation to require private schools participating in the voucher program teach American history and government, maintain a selection of patriotic readings and not advocate the violent overthrow of the government.

With so many Indiana families eligible for tuition aid, it will be fascinating to see how this plays out. Will kids from $60,000-a-year families crowd out lower-income students?

Gov. Daniels has signed a bill limiting teachers’ collective-bargaining ability.

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  1. Good news. Cross your fingers. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer screwed school choice advocates, so it’s always possible that a “friend” will sell poor kids down the river, but this looks like sunrise to me.

  2. I suspect that a lot of taxpayer dollars will be spent funding religious schools–both Islamic and Christian.

  3. Cal- given our population, probably a lot to Catholic, Lutheran and Evangelical schools, not so much to Islamic. Our local Catholic and Lutheran schools were lobbying hard for this— we’ll have to see how it works out.

    Also, Indiana already has some of the laxest homeschooling laws in the nation.

  4. Stacy in NJ says:

    Boy, I sure do like President Daniels, urr, I mean Governor Daniels. Good for Indiana.

  5. Cal, a lot of money’s already been spent funding religious education. You have heard of Pell Grants and the G.I. Bill, right?

  6. I guess the crux of the issue is: Why do we provide schools?

    If we want an educated, civically active citizenry, does it really matter which schools we fund? If the local Jewish school is doing a great job educating kids and the local public school is a dump, doesn’t it make sense to provide the money to the families directly, so that everyone who wants to can go to Jewish Day school?

    Voucher opponents often claim that there’s not enough oversight, and that we can’t tell what’s being taught in these schools, but are we really that on top of the PUBLIC schools?

    Also, and this may be an Indiana specific ‘problem.’ — There was a big dustup in our diocese recently about the 5-star school ratings. You see, only ONE Catholic school got rated an Indiana 5-star school, and the principals of the other schools looked at the reports to figure out why they’d missed out.

    Well, it turns out that the state sets the bar much higher for Catholic schools than public ones. Because if they held the Catholic schools accountable to the same standards, ALL the Catholic schools would be 5 star, and it would make the public schools look bad. That’s right, ALL of them. The mostly poor, minority Catholic schools in Gary came out ahead of the wealthy and middle class suburban and rural schools. And so the state decided to measure them by a different rule, so that only one would come out 5 stars.

    SO… the religious schools are, across the board, doing better with less money. And there are plenty of parents who would like to send their kids to religious or private school and don;’t because the public schools are free, and they don’t want to take charity.

    I think these vouchers are going to make a huge difference for a lot of families who need options for their kids.

  7. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Most of the Western world’s best universities were or still are religious schools.

    I’m not going to weep if some parent with a voucher thinks that maybe a religious school might have something to offer.

  8. Stacy in NJ says:

    “I’m not going to weep if some parent with a voucher thinks that maybe a religious school might have something to offer.”

    Further to this, I’d bet a lot of money that there are few or no schools with extreme and/or non-mainstream religious views in Indiana. These vouchers will go to standard issue Catholic, Christian, and secular private schools. A handful might go to Jewish and/or Islamic schools. I also assume that along with the vouchers a fair amount of public scrutiny will follow.

  9. Stacy– don’t forget the Lutherans! There are a LOT of Lutheran schools around here!

  10. Stacy in NJ says:

    Deirdre – How could I forget those extremist Lutherans with their irrational demands for polite manners and good hygiene? They will surely destroy the Indiana public school system as we know it.

  11. Hey, Stacy, no need for sarcasm! Sure, they seem all nice and mainstream at first, but on Sundays, after they’re all hopped up on coffee, donuts and jello molds? I mean, sheesh… And then, even worse, are the radicalized congregations with lots of wisconsin or minnesota transplants— When the vikings play the packers…. man…..

    Do we really want public money going to these anti-american ideas? It’s a crisis, I tell you. It makes me scared to be a hoosier!

  12. Stacy in NJ says:

    Deirdre – LOL, I’m originally from Minnesota; I have vivid memories of jello molds. Oh, those jello molds, somehow they managing to look harmless while subverting the very foundation of our democracy.

  13. When vouchers are offered for ALL students, including my own children, then I’ll be a supporter.