Today the Indiana Senate narrowly passed HB 1003, an expansion of Indiana’s private school voucher bill. The close vote reflects the controversy that this bill rightfully engenders, expanding a program that is not even two years old. No meaningful data support the expansion of this entitlement program.
ISTA continues to believe that expansion of this program is not necessary. The statutory caps that the 2011 General Assembly set for the number of students receiving vouchers has not been reached – by a long shot – over the past two school years.
Just because the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that this program is constitutional doesn’t make it a good idea or good education policy.
ISTA continues to be concerned about the funds for public education that are being diverted to maintain and possibly expand taxpayer-funded private/parochial school vouchers. We learned yesterday that the projections for funding this program are $50 million for calendar year 2014 and $63 million for calendar year 2015. There is really no way to know if those projections are high enough because HB 1003 would allow some students who have never been in public schools to now receive vouchers.
Clearly, HB 1003 would negatively affect the public schools that serve more than one million Hoosier children. After months of testimony and discussion, no bona fide reasons have surfaced to expand Indiana’s private school voucher program.
“Expanding the voucher program will continue to drain millions of dollars away from our public schools that educate more than one million Hoosier children. That’s not fair to them and to their families. And it’s not good public policy,” said Nate Schnellenberger, ISTA President.