by Jeremy Deaton
According to data obtained from the Indiana Department of Education, private school vouchers drained more than $45 million from the 10 hardest hit Indiana school districts last year, twice the amount lost during the 2012-13 school year.
Critics believe Indiana’s voucher system could widen economic, racial, ethnic, and religious divisions. Already, the proportion of African-American and Hispanic students participating in Indiana’s voucher program has declined.
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“Initially, the bill was passed so that you would have to at least go to your local public school first,” remarked Teresa Meredith, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association. “That was so that the public school had the opportunity to show the parents what they had to offer. But now what we’re seeing, as much as 51 percent of students statewide who are using a voucher have never been to a public school. That is just staggering to me.”
Today, nearly 30,000 Indiana students are using vouchers to attend to private institutions. Vouchers divert energy and resources away from public schools, undermining efforts to reduce class sizes, provide professional development to educators and give children the tools they need to grow and succeed. Instead of sapping public schools of valuable resources, educators believe lawmakers should focus on real, common-sense solutions that ensure a world-class public education system that serves all students regardless of zip code.