More news from the frontlines in the battle over school choice, as thousands of Indianans have taken advantage of the Hoosier state’s Choice Scholarship Program. Public school teachers and administrators are naturally panicked over this development, going so far as to contact parents and persuade them to keep their children enrolled.
The program is welcome news for many parents concerned about the education their children are currently receiving in public schools.
Yet opposition to the program is strong, and the Indiana teachers’ unions are working to thwart the program. They claim it violates the Indiana constitution by using taxpayer dollars to subsidize religious education, and runs afoul of the state’s obligation to provide “tuition-free system of common schools.”
John West, attorney for some plaintiffs in the case, said this of the matter:
“When the constitution tells you that you’re to provide for the education of Indiana children through a general uniform system of common schools, it’s implicit in that that it can’t be done in another way, such as sending them all to private schools with vouchers.”
Indiana continues to maintain its state-run school system, and so far only a few thousand students have utilized the voucher to attend private schools, so it is unclear whether the plaintiffs’ case has much merit.
Not surprisingly, much of the opposition to the program focuses on the harm it will cause to students who remain in the public system. The greater harm here is depriving families of some autonomy over their children’s education. The Choice Scholarship Program is a good move towards promoting a more robust education system in which students and parents have the ability to decide their future.