When Indiana adopted a “freeway schools” law in the mid-1990s, it was billed as a way to free public schools from burdensome regulations. Schools – or even entire school corporations – could get a pass on rules concerning curriculum, textbooks, etc., in exchange for signing a contract with the state to achieve and maintain high levels of performance.
But the program evolved into something very different: A way for private schools, especially religious schools, to be accredited by the state without meeting the same requirements as most public schools.
A list provided by the state Department of Education shows there are now 141 freeway schools . Almost all are private. Judging by their names, all but a dozen or so are religious schools.
Accreditation is a nice stamp of approval. But with the state’s new voucher law, it’s something more. Private schools that are accredited – including those that are accredited as freeway schools – can qualify for government-funded tuition vouchers for students who transfer from public schools.