Thousands of Students Take Advantage of Voucher Program, Mostly Go to Catholic Schools

Indianapolis Business Journal, among many other sources, is reporting that some 3,200 students have taken advantage of Indiana’s new school voucher program. More of those students are going to Catholic schools than to any other destination.

The move takes place the first school season after Indiana’s legislature passed bold new school voucher laws that make some of the most aggressive changes in the nation. Supporters say the plan allows parents to pick the best education for their children, despite their personal economic situation. Opponents complain that the vouchers remove money from the public school system and may violate the separation of church and state.

With so many vouchers heading the way of parochial schools, those complaints about the church and state issues would appear to have some validity. Supporters, though, say it has little to do with the parochial nature of the mostly Catholic schools. They argue that it is because most parochial schools are better established and have standards more in line with what parents expect than other private schools do.

The argument of church vs state does not always add up. While it may be a valid argument, it feels like most of those using it do so to prevent money from leaving their beloved public schools, rather than to prevent some injection of religion into our government spending. If it was truly about separation of church and state, then the voucher opponents should be strong supporters of increasing the size of the charter school system. To the contrary, though, you find opponents of both charters and vouchers to be mostly the same people.

This first wave of students heading to private schools is bound to be only a small portion of the number of vouchers we see used in the coming years. As parents become more aware of the program’s existence and how to use it, I fully expect this number to jump up greatly.

The real test will be the program’s performance, of course. Watching same-student test results over the next few years is going to be very telling about how much difference a school can make.

2 Responses to Thousands of Students Take Advantage of Voucher Program, Mostly Go to Catholic Schools

  1. Steven Turley August 29, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    The arguments being used to dismantle choices in education are flimsy. Think about it, what happens on April 15th? We file our taxes and most of us recieve a reimbursement check from the government. There are no strings attached. We can spend the money any way we like because it’s ours. Donated it to a church? A very worthy cause of course, and not one complaint will be made. So you see, that’s not the problem. Still thinking the voucher-money is government’s, not yours. That’s the problem. Government should not say what school your child has to attend. Since the individual funding was earmarked for your child’s education the whole time, you’re simply receiving a reimbursement for not using the public schools. Therefor, Government is not giving money to religious schools. You are. Which is perfectly legal (and highly admirable).

    Second, it’s funny how government touts constitutionalism only when it benefits the government. Our Bill of Rights have been burned beyond recognition over recent years. Why would they care now?

    The seperation of church and state was to prevent leaders from establishing an approved state religion, as was often the case in England and Europe. Many were put to death for worshipping as protestants instead of catholics (or the other way around, depending on what century we’re talking about). The Bill of Rights never suggested government refuse to acknowlege and support an individual’s choice of religion.

    So there….the argument’s are blown!

  2. kennethh August 29, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    When someone utilizes federal funds, grants for college they are not restricted by the so called ‘separation of church and state’ clause that does not exist. They get to choose which college they attend, and yet when it comes to the children everybody’s up in arms.