Failing grades for Indiana voucher expansion bills


South Bend Tribune

With public schools grappling with the challenge of educating students during a pandemic, with uncertainty about funding, Republican lawmakers in the Indiana General Assembly have chosen to go all-in on growing the state’s voucher program.

Three proposals would expand the state’s private school vouchers and create a new Education Scholarship Account program, allowing parents to access the state dollars that would be spent on educating their children through an online portal to spend on education expenses like tuition, supplies or uniforms.

The expansion would power an increase of potentially tens of millions of dollars to the program.

In total, these publicly funded private school programs would receive a substantial portion of the new K-12 education dollars in the House budget.

Not surprisingly, a number of groups have lined up in opposition to these proposals, including the Indiana Parent Teacher Association, the Indiana Association of School Business Officials and Indiana Urban Schools Association.

Last week, three former superintendents of public instruction issued a letter coming out against the proposals. The letter was signed by Suellen Reed Goddard, Glenda Ritz and Jennifer McCormick.

At a news conference on Monday, Reed Goddard said that “Now is not the time to divert any of our funding from public education.”

She’s right. Legislators who propose pouring additional money into the state’s voucher program at the expense of public schools short on funds during a public health crisis should turn their attention elsewhere: to the issues and needs within public schools, which 90 percent of K-12 students attend.

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