Some Republicans cool to school voucher idea

Gov. Mitch Daniels has so far been able to count on a solid wall of support for his education agenda from the Republican majority in the Indiana legislature. But the wall may be cracking when it comes to one key element of his agenda: state-funded vouchers to pay for private-school tuition.

Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, raised concerns about House Bill 1003, the voucher legislation, last week. In a letter to all legislators, he worried about using public funds to support religious schools.

If the state can’t favor one religion over another, Steele asked, what’s to prevent vouchers from being used at a radical Muslim madrassa that teaches children to hate Christians and Jews? Or a school affiliated with Westboro Baptist Church, which pickets the funerals of U.S. soldiers with signs that say God hates soldiers because they represent the United States?

“What if you get a school that’s taking vouchers and it’s teaching a particular brand of hate or intolerance? You may never know,” he told School Matters.

Steele also mentioned Article 1, Section 6 of the Indiana Constitution: “No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution.”

“That, to me, means just what it says,” he said.

Steele said he wrote to colleagues because Continue reading