Jennifer McCormick, Indiana’s superintendent of public instruction, is showing herself to be a principled advocate for public schools, even if it means defying Republican orthodoxy on private school vouchers.
After six years of experience with a fast-growing and largely unregulated voucher system, she told National Public Radio reporters, it’s time for Indiana to take a serious look at the program.
“You know, we’re spending roughly $146 million on a program and not really reviewing it. That is irresponsible,” said McCormick, a Republican who took office in January.
She said it’s “alarming” that over half of voucher students in Indiana have never attended a public school. Gov. Mitch Daniels sold the voucher program in 2011 as a way for students from poor families to find an alternative when their local public schools failed to deliver. But legislators subsequently shifted the rationale to “choice is good,” with little oversight or accountability for how money is spent.
McCormick also is also not pleased that voucher-funded private schools can refuse to admit students with disabilities. Adam Baker, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Education, said the administration believes any school “that receives public dollars should be held to the same standard.”
The NPR story, by national education editor Cory Turner, Eric Weddle of WFYI in Indianapolis and Peter Balonon-Rosen of Indiana Public Media, is incredibly thorough, well reported and balanced. It lays bare the problems with Indiana’s deeply flawed voucher program. Read it, if you haven’t already. Or listen to the audio, airing this week on “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”