Public school teachers, parents and students rallied at the Statehouse on Tuesday against the expansion of Indiana’s voucher program.
Fort Wayne Community Schools is the largest school district in the state, and board president Mark GiaQuinta says that gives Fort Wayne the responsibility to lead the way for public schools across Indiana.
GiaQuinta, the brother of Democratic Representative Phil GiaQuinta, represented House Democrats in the legal battle over fines issued during the 2011 legislator walkout.
His board adopted a resolution opposing a bill expanding the state’s voucher program, saying taking more dollars away from public education to pay for private schools jeopardizes summer school, arts and extracurricular programs.
“For us, it’s very difficult to keep funding the kinds of programs that build the key relationship between students and teachers that inspire that student to come to school each day with the motivation to succeed,” he says.
House Education Committee Chairman Bob Behning, the bill’s sponsor, says expanding the voucher program is not about taking money away from public schools. He says it is about providing parents more education options.
“Choice moves student performance forward, and I’m an advocate for making sure all children have an opportunity to learn so I believe this bill just kind of continues what we put in place,” he says.
Behning also says voucher expansion was a campaign commitment of Governor Mike Pence, and he is sponsoring the bill to help the governor.