The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board today praised Indiana legislators Todd Huston, Bob Behning, Rodric Bray, Brian Buchanan, and Jeff Raatz for standing up to the teachers unions in the state and expanding school choice.
Hoosiers Lead the Voucher Way
Indiana passes a major expansion of school choice
Wall Street Journal
April 22, 2020
Ten years ago in these columns, we hailed Indiana for its leadership in establishing one of America’s most ambitious school voucher programs. On Thursday the Indiana Legislature built on that achievement by approving a budget that will take the program to 48,000 students a year from about 37,000.
The choice provisions in the budget have three main components. The first would lift the income cap for eligibility to $145,000 a year from $96,000. This would make as much as 90% of the population eligible for the program. The bill would also increase the voucher amount to 90% of tuition support levels, and eliminate the existing tiered system.
Another provision would establish Education Savings Accounts for children with special needs. The budget also increases the per student grants for charter schools to $1,000 next year and $1,250 in the second year from $750 today.
But that common union line about choice robbing public schools isn’t true. Though the final breakdown of the $1.9 billion in extra education spending won’t be known until after parents have made their choices for their children, the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency does a projection of how the money will be distributed based on anticipated student enrollment. According to this projection, 92% of Indiana students will be in traditional public schools, and 93% of all education funding will go to these schools.
Since 2011, when Indiana pushed through its first voucher plan, more than a quarter-million Hoosier students have benefited. In an interview with Today’s Catholic, former Gov. Mitch Daniels explains the moral logic of choice this way: “Providing poor and minority families the same choice of schools that their wealthier neighbors enjoy is the purest example of ‘social justice’ in our society today.”
The good news is that Republicans such as Todd Huston and Rep. Bob Behning in the state House and Rodric Bray, Brian Buchanan and Jeff Raatz in the Senate have stepped up to reject the idea that unions should have a monopoly over K-12 education dollars. Once again Hoosiers are leading the way in establishing an education system that gives parents and children a choice.