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Applications For Indiana Private School Vouchers Double

More than 20,000 Hoosiers applied for Indiana's private school vouchers this year.

teacher in classroom

Photo: flickr (www.audio-luci-store.it)

The Indiana public school voucher money is in high demand this school year.

Enrollment in Indiana’s private school voucher program has more than doubled this school year.

Indiana education officials confirmed Tuesday they’ve received more than 20,000 applications for voucher dollars. That means the program has more than quadrupled its enrollment since it started two years ago.

School Choice Indiana president Betsy Wiley, a voucher program advocate, attributes the increase to House Bill 1003, which won state lawmakers’ approval last session.

“Quite honestly it’s just phenomenal and nothing we ever dreamed of in 2011. I think it is in part the result of the legislation that the general assembly and Governor Pence passed,” she says.

Roughly 600,000 students, or 60 percent of Indiana’s K-12 population, are now eligible to receive vouchers.

Wiley speculates much of the program’s growth this year to a key provision of the new law: students do not have to attend public school for a year before receiving a voucher if they have a sibling who’s already done the same.

Ashlyn Nelson, an education policy professor at IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, says families are more aware of the program than they were two years ago. But she isn’t convinced vouchers help every student access better education.

“There is no systematic evidence showing that vouchers benefit student achievements,” Nelson says.

The president of Indiana’s largest teachers union issued a statement saying the increase in voucher enrollment means fewer dollars for public schools, which has a direct impact on the depth of public school programs.

  • Jack Irsay

    Applications are not the same as enrollment, dumb ass

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  • HoosierMommy

    More important than the number, perhaps, is what percentage of vouchers are used for enrollment at parochial schools? I know that the first year of the program, only 1 voucher was used for a school that was secular. If most of the vouchers are supporting enrollment at religious institutions, the taxpayers should be complaining. (BTW, before any haters attack me for being anti-Christian, let me just say that, through the 8th grade, I attended a school that was run by my church. I think religious education is fine, but it should NOT be taxpayer funded.)

  • oldk

    It is the taxpayers that are using the vouchers and they are complaining about public education. Maybe they want a place where religion is not under attack, is not politically correct, where they have input to curriculum, where teachers unions do not run things and where birth control pills are not given out and parents not notified. Many of these people using vouchers go to religious schools because they are the only schools with traditional values available to them.

  • HoosierMommy

    oldk, I think you have misunderstood me – I am all for parents deciding what is the best education for their children. I went to a church-sponsored school as a child, and my husband and I sent our children to such a school (the same school, actually). We paid for that ourselves – we did not expect the taxpayers to support our parochial school.

    What I have a problem with is our taxes being used to pay for religious instruction. Religion is a personal matter, and it should remain that way, AND public funding of religious education violates the Constitutional requirement of separation of church and state. Plus, all the folks who think that there is nothing wrong with taxpayers funding religious education will, no doubt, be very unhappy when their taxes are used to support fundamentalist Muslim schools, for example, or Orthodox Jewish seminaries, or snake-handling Christian “sects”, Christian Science academies, and so on. And if we use public money for certain religious schools, we have to make it available to all.

  • CarolAnnie44

    Bull. I pay taxes, and I can send my kid where I want. “Religious” education is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Then you don’t need to worry about where my kid goes. It’s MY MONEY TOO. Your understanding of “separation” needs SERIOUS help, but you’re certainly not alone.

  • CarolAnnie44

    It IS available to all. Anyone can put their child where they think best (Muslim, Catholic, Green Spaghetti Monster, whatever). Stop keeping track of where the kids go (since it’s none of your business) and you won’t have to worry about it.

  • Liberty in our lifetime

    For those complaining that the vouchers are used at a religious institution and your unhappy about that, there is only one fair way to resolve it. End public education and have everyone pay to educate their kids out of their own pocket. I highly doubt you would agree to this, so this is the next fair thing in the chain. If your forcing everyone to contribute to education, at least let the parent decide where the kid goes to learn.

    And for those complaining that other schools do not get better results than the public system does, so what? This movement was much more about the state forcing things onto kids that parents did not like, or not allowing or teaching things parents did like.

    Now they have a choice, and if we cant have a system where people are responsible enough to provide their own children’s education costs, then this is the best compromise. Its not about unions, teachers, or the other things its about freedom and respecting your neighbors.

  • HoosierMommy

    I don’t care where parents choose to send their kids. What I care about is that taxpayer funds are being channeled away from public schools, at a time when they are already overcrowded and have insufficient resources, AND that said taxpayer funds are being used to further religious education. My tax money should not be spent for that purpose.

  • HoosierMommy

    Religious education is my business if I’m paying for it. And my understanding of church and state is just fine, thank you, having practiced law for a number of years. You’re the one who lacks understanding.

  • BobJohnson7777

    So by your logic, food stamp recipients should be restricted to shopping at government run stores also?

  • HoosierMommy

    NO. I don’t care where people shop or where they send their kids to school. But taxpayers’ funds should not be used to pay for religious schools. That’s what separation of Church and State means. If people want to send their children to religious schools, they should pay for that themselves – the same way I paid for my kids to attend our church’s school, and the same way that my parents paid for my sister and me.

  • BobJohnson7777

    So if people want to use food stamps to buy food at a store run by a church it’s OK to spend taxpayer money for that, but not for schools. It’s OK for tax money to go into the hands of religious organizations as long as it’s not for education, right?

  • HoosierMommy

    Religious schools are for religious indoctrination as well as instruction – that’s why parents send their kids to them. Church stores (food banks, hospitals, homeless shelters, etc.) are, generally speaking, for secular purposes. Big difference in the eyes of the law – or at least it used to be.

  • BobJohnson7777

    So you want your tax money spent on anti-religion left wing indoctrination in the public schools? Why is it that you think you get to choose how people have their children taught? The Constitution does not state that the government must prevent us from doing anything religious or otherwise with our time or any funds the government redistributes to us, i.e. food stamps or education funding that is taxed from many and then provided to school aged children. The Constitutional amendments state that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The real problem comes from the concept that once the government has decided to fund education from tax money, that the rights of parents to decide how their kids should be educated with that funding is limited to one monopolistic option that has no incentive to do a good job educating the child.

  • HoosierMommy

    Not teaching religion in the public schools is not the same as “anti-religion”. Not teaching religion in public schools means that the parents have the primary responsibility for educating their children regarding their religious beliefs, which is exactly as it should be. Government not financially supporting a particular belief system is not the same as “preventing us from doing anything religious”. It is simply neutral. Again, as it should be.

    In this country, the ideal is that government neither support nor prohibit the free exercise of religion. That’s what the First Amendment has been held to mean since the founding of the Republic over 200 hundred years ago – until the last few years when folks with a political ax to grind decided that “if you’re not for us, you’re against us.”

  • Robert

    1. Tell the NEA to get lost
    2. Hire armed guards to keep the drugs and thugs out of every public school
    3. Prompt installation of merit based teacher pay
    4. Tenure based on student test scores and not how to keep a chair warm

    Until these needed reforms are enacted, parents have every right to send their child to the school of their choice. As a taxpayer, I’m more than happy to pay for it.

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