Indiana

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Non-Profit Education Was Growing In Indiana Before Charter, Voucher Laws

A student plays with Legos at Christel House Academy, a charter school on Indianapolis' south side.

Even before Governor Daniels signed into law measures creating a statewide private school voucher program and making it easier to open charter schools, a newly-released IU report shows Indiana’s non-profit education sector was already booming.

Employment in Indiana’s non-profit K-12 schools — which includes charter schools, independent schools, and some private schools — grew 58 percent between 1995 and 2009. By contrast, employment in government-run (read: “traditional” public) schools grew a more modest 24 percent, the report shows.

Given changes in state law freeing charter and private schools to have more access to public dollars, says Indiana University professor Kirsten Grønbjerg, non-profit education’s growth is likely to continue.

Employee wages, the report also shows, grew 20 percent between 1995 and 2009 in non-profit elementary and secondary schools, adjusted for inflation. In government schools, wages dipped 8 percent.

The average wage at a government-run K-12 school, at roughly $35,000 in 2009, is still more than $8,000 better than the average wage at a non-profit K-12 school. (That includes all workers, not just teachers.)

But that pay gap has shrunk since 1995, when the average non-profit education employee made $15,000 less than their average government counterpart.

‘Across-The-Board’ Growth

Grønbjerg, a faculty member at IU’s School for Public and Environmental Affairs, heads a project studying non-profit entities in Indiana.

The analysis Grønbjerg and her colleagues produced shows the growth in Indiana’s non-profit education sector outpacing growth in the government sector at the college level as well. However, Grønbjerg is less convinced the growth at the college level would continue.

“I think there’s concern about whether or not tuition levels have become so high that that may have a dampening effect at private, non-profit colleges,” she says.

The report looks at employment, not student enrollment. The IU professor adds she’s sure the numbers underestimate the growth in non-profit education entities because the data don’t always include, for example, some religious schools operated under the auspices of a local church.

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