Indiana’s school voucher system is the fastest growing school choice program in the country. Over 9,000 children now attend private school at state expense. However, the future of the program was on the line in a state Supreme Court hearing Wednesday.
Justices heard the arguments in a legal challenge to the voucher system by opponents who include teachers and school districts. They say its unconstitutional because tax money goes to religious schools.
Attorneys for the state defended the two-year-old program. They argue that the money paid to private schools is no different than state scholarship money that goes to colleges like Anderson University or the University of Notre Dame.
Among those watching was the president of the Fort Wayne school board who says that his district has lost 7 million dollars as a result of the vouchers. “We are seeing these dollars leave not because we’re not doing a good job for our students and their parents,” said Mark GiaQuinta, “but because of reasons totally unrelated to education.”
Voucher programs in other states have survived similar challenges. “Every child in this state, regardless of their race, regardless of how money their parents have in their checking accounts, should have an opportunity to pursue an education that meets their child’s needs,” said state School Superintendent Tony Bennett, “and I think that is clearly what’s at stake.”
Over 90% of the state school vouchers go to schools with a religious affiliation. A ruling is anticipated early next year.
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