Voucher program promotes religion, not better education

Supporters of Indiana’s school voucher program can no longer pretend that it’s intended to provide parents with the best education for their children no matter where they live.

No, it’s about using public dollars to pay for religious education, pure and simple. More and more every year, vouchers are going to parents who never intended to send their kids to public schools. They are taking advantage of the program to get religious instruction at taxpayer expense.

Look, for example, at Lighthouse Christian Academy in Bloomington, which enrolled 25 new voucher students last fall. The school has nearly 100 students receiving vouchers and received almost $400,000 in state-funded tuition assistance this year.

The school’s principal, Joyce Huck, told the Bloomington Herald-Times that most of the new students were from families that previously home-schooled their kids.

“Before, looking at education that was faith-based was out of reach financially, and with the scholarships, they were able to make that happen,” Huck told reporter Mary Keck.

According to the annual voucher program report released last week by the Indiana Department of Education, 52 percent of the 32,686 current voucher students have no record of having attended a public school in the state.

Voucher students were eligible to receive $134.7 million in taxpayer-funded tuition assistance this year, the report said. Ninety-nine percent of the more than 300 private schools that enroll voucher students are religious schools. With maybe three exceptions, those are Christian schools, primarily Catholic, Lutheran or Evangelical Protestant.

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