Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston explained the rationale for expanding private-school vouchers in a story published by the Associated Press. “The overall policy is money should follow the child, to where that child is being educated,” he said.
So there you have it: the philosophy of universal school vouchers, as outlined nearly 70 years ago by libertarian economic Milton Friedman and advanced by his acolytes ever since.
No concern about accountability, about qualified teachers or a fact-based curriculum, about equity, about the rights of children and families. No audits of how public money is spent. No concept that public funding for education should serve the greater good, not just the self-interest of individuals and families.
The expansion is included in House Bill 1005, which is scheduled for a committee hearing this week. It would extend voucher eligibility to families that make three times the cutoff to qualify for reduced-price school meals. For a family of four, that’s $145,000 – nearly double the state’s median family income.
For a family of five, the cutoff would be $170,000. For a family of six, $195,000. Those families could get at least $5,500 per child from the state to pay tuition at private schools. Nearly all voucher schools in Indiana are religious schools.
The bill would also create a new K-12 education savings account program, a kind of neo-voucher that would give students with disabilities and children of military personnel and disabled veterans over $6,000 each to pay for private school tuition or other education services.
The Legislative Services Agency says the expansion would cost the state $108 million next year and an additional $93 million the following year. This is at a time when legislative leaders say they will be doing well to “flatline” the amount of money going to K-12 education.
In other words, public school districts and charter schools may need to forget about funding increases for the next two years if this expansion passes. And Gov. Eric Holcomb may as well throw his commission-drafted plan for increasing teacher pay in the trash.
The House Education Committee will give the bill a hearing at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in the House Chamber. If you care about public education, contact your legislators.