Letter: Vote no on House Bill 1384 expanding vouchers

From: Dale Nowlin


When the Indiana Legislature passed its first school voucher bill in 2011, the legislation had two goals: (1) to improve education for Hoosier children, especially children from low-income families; and (2) to save money for taxpayers.

Since that time the program has been expanded, and House Bill 1384 includes plans to expand it even further. This is in spite of the fact that research and data show Indiana’s voucher program not meeting either of the original goals.

Indiana’s voucher program is not improving the education of students. A recent study from the University of Notre Dame found that Hoosier students who transferred from public schools to private schools through the voucher program actually performed worse than their counterparts who stayed in the public schools.

The voucher program is not focusing on children from low-income families. The majority of vouchers go to middle- and upper-middle-class families. A family with three children can qualify for a voucher with an income of over $100,000. This does not focus on improving education for low-income families.

The voucher program is not saving taxpayers money. In 2015-2016, the state paid $131 million to send students to private – mostly parochial – schools. More than half of the voucher recipients have never attended public school and would very likely have chosen a private school without the voucher program. Currently, the voucher program is less about helping low-income families improve education for their children and more about helping middle-income families pay for private schools that they would attend without vouchers. And we as taxpayers are footing the bill.

More than $8 million is spent annually on vouchers to send students to private schools that earned a D or F rating on the state accountability system. Current legislation states that if a private school earns a D or F for two consecutive years they cannot receive new voucher students. HB 1384 will allow failing private schools to apply for waivers so they can continue to receive new voucher students. That will not improve education for those students, and it will cost tax payers even more. Ask your state representative to vote no on expanding vouchers to those failing schools.