Republicans’ shifting rationale for vouchers

It’s a rare treat when a public official directs journalists to a document that proves what he is saying isn’t true. So … thank you, Speaker Brian Bosma.

The topic, once again, is school vouchers. Last week, the Republican-controlled House voted largely on party lines for a bill that would provide taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers for low- and middle-income parents who transfer their children from any public school to a private school.

House Democrats tried to amend the bill to limit the vouchers to students transferring out of schools that receive a D or F on Indiana’s school-rating system. Wasn’t the point of the voucher idea to help students escape “failing” schools, they asked?

But Republicans rejected the amendment. Pressed by reporters after the vote, Bosma, R-Indianapolis, insisted GOP support for vouchers had always been about “giving parents choice,” not about getting kids out of ineffective schools.

“No one in the Republican caucus has said this (was about failing schools),” Bosma said, according to the Indianapolis Star. He urged reporters to look at the House Republicans’ “Strengthening Indiana” plan. “It says nothing about failing or successful schools there,” he said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. “It’s about empowering parents with additional choices.”

Of course, the reporters looked at the plan, which is linked from Bosma’s own website. And the only language in the plan that could be a reference to vouchers is this pledge:

“Provide Children who Attend Failing Schools Grants to Attend a School of Choice” (italics added).

The voucher bill is scheduled for a hearing Wednesday afternoon before the Senate Education and Career Development Committee.