September 23 2012
Vicki E. Alger
Indiana school voucher enrollment doubled from 3,900 students last school year to more than 9,000 this school year, according to School Reform News.
In the first two years of the program, 2011-2012 and the current school year, scholarships are limited to 7,500 and 15,000 students, respectively. Next year, however, the cap will be lifted. …In 2011, Indiana implemented a statewide voucher program, one of the nation’s most expansive. It provides private school scholarships to students from low- and middle-income families—those with incomes of up to 150 percent of the federal poverty line, or approximately $60,000 a year for a family of four. Scholarships are worth up to 90 percent of state per-pupil education spending, depending on a family’s income level. …“Voucher schools performed better on math and English [state tests] than public schools on the whole,” noted Jeff Reed of the Indianapolis-based Freidman Foundation for Educational Choice. Ninety-one percent of students in Indiana voucher schools passed the state’s English/language arts test, and 89 percent passed its math in 2012…In state public schools, these numbers were 79 percent and 81 percent for English/Language Arts and math, respectively.
Additionally, 90 percent of voucher school students passed both subjects in 38 percent of their schools, the goal set forth by the Indiana State Department of Education for all Indiana schools. This is more than three times the percentage of Indiana public schools that met this goal (12 percent).
President Obama recently said, “We believe in an America where…no matter where you come from…you can make it here if you try.” Succeeding here—or anywhere—begins with educational opportunity. More programs like Indiana’s, as well as ones like the Opportunity Scholarship Program at work in the President’s own back yard, would help.