Thursday, December 22, 2011

Indiana Schools Grapple With Voucher Law's Impact

This from Education Week:
As the 3,919 students who participated in the first year of Indiana’s new, wide-reaching school voucher program near the end of the first semester in their new schools, the program faces up to its next challenge: A state court hearing opens today on a lawsuit arguing the program violates Indiana’s constitution.

The Choice Scholarship program, one of a number of education reforms passed and signed into law by Indiana’s Republican-dominated state government during this year’s legislative session, has drawn national attention for a number of bold components. It is the only active state voucher program in the country that is not limited to low-income students or students who have attended a low-performing school, and the only active voucher program with no eventual cap on enrollment.

With the program moving into full gear, public schools across the state are bracing for an outflow of funds from already-tight budgets while private schools prepare for an increased demand for spaces in their classrooms. Meanwhile, debate still rages over the initiative as schools and families consider the financial, educational, and social consequences of a program that is projected to grow substantially. Advocates say the voucher program allows all families to make a choice once limited to the well-off; opponents question its constitutionality and wonder if the program is really serving who it’s intended to serve.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Generally speaking, I sometimes wonder why my state government can use my tax dollars to spend on private sector contracts for construction, roads, etc, but some folks get their noses out of joint when I ask for the same opportunity for my own kids.

As a public school educator, I understand most of the implications of the voucher system, differences in private/public systems, etc. But at some point, we as citizens are going to have to face up to the realities of why people are leaving some public schools for private ones. We can't blame it on the system because we are the ones who have allowed it to become what it is. Private schools are just catering to the market that exists in comparison to what we offer. If people are willing to pay more and private school educators are willing to work for less, one must ask "what do we need to be doing differently?"

I feel confident my comment will elicit a defensive response from a public school colleague who will undoubtedly decry the selectivety of private school populations, centralized school control, accussations of elitism, compliance with state/fed mandates & regulations and the obligation to educate all students.

My only retort is that even though those are certainly worthy observations, they aren't going to protect your job or serve you students any better if you think a politician is going to sustain status quo for your benefit. I wouldn't be suprised if the legislators and education leaders in Indiana (as well as many other states) are not only divesting themselves of student transportation but privatizing education in the next few decades. If you don't have the money to feed the horse, you better buy some comfortable shoes.