IBJNews

Voucher students who never tried public school on the rise

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Four in 10 students using vouchers never attended an Indiana public school, even though the original 2011 law that authorized the program required it.

The first year, nearly every student in the program – which uses state funds to send lower-income students to private schools – tried out a public school first.

But two years later – after lawmakers expanded the program to give students more options –about 40 percent have no record of attending an Indiana public school.

The statistics are part of a report produced by the Indiana Department of Education and released Monday. It’s the first wide-ranging statistical analysis of the state’s voucher program.

Currently, Indiana has the nation’s broadest private-school voucher program and it’s becoming broader. It offers tuition assistance to families whose income is 150 percent of the federal free or reduced lunch program or less.

Rep. Todd Huston, R-Fishers, said he supports vouchers because of the choice it gives students and their parents.

Originally, a student had to satisfy one of two eligibility requirements – complete two semesters in public school or receive an award from a previous scholarship-granting organization.

But, last year, the General Assembly added several more ways a student could qualify. Students who have a disability, live in a school district that received an F grade from the state’s accountability system, or have a sibling who received a voucher are eligible for a voucher. Those pathways allow students to attend a private school with a voucher without ever trying public school.

According to the annual report, 5,225 students of the 5,613 who received a voucher would not have been eligible under the two-semester requirement.

1n 2011, 90 percent of the students using vouchers had previously attended public school. That dropped to 60 percent in 2012 after the eligibility requirements broadened.

Rep. Kreg Battles, D-Vincennes, said he is troubled that some students never even give the public school system a chance. He said that constitutionally, the state should focus on public schools.

The income criteria for vouchers are linked to the federal free or reduced lunch program guidelines. A student’s family income can be equal to or below 100 percent of those guidelines to receive a 90-percent scholarship, and below 150 percent to receive a 50-percent scholarship.

That means that a family of four whose income is $43,568 or less could apply for a 90-percent scholarship.That same family, with income $63,352 or below, could apply for a 50-percent scholarship.

Battles said he is overall against the voucher system, but since it is in place, the financial guidelines should be stricter.

Already, state law allows a student to continue to receive a 50-percent voucher even if his family’s income increases to as high as 200 percent of the free and reduced lunch guidelines. That’s $87,135 for a family of four.

“What bothers me, is that (bill) gives you a lifetime privilege of being designated in (the low-income) category and having a voucher to use at a charter school or a traditional school, or one of our private institutions,” said Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary prior to the release of the annual report. “We know that your status in life changes.”

The number of Hoosiers using vouchers almost doubled from 2012 to 2013 because the three eligibility paths increased to seven.

In 2011-2012 school year 3,911 students used a voucher to attend a private school. The state paid $15.5 million for scholarships that year.

The maximum amount the state will pay for voucher in the 2013-2014 school years is an estimated $81 million for 19,809 students.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Private Schools should be an earned privilege not a taxpayer forced entitlement
    As a Christian, as well as a Republican, I am confused by other conservatives being in favor of ADDITIONAL ENTITLEMENTS. I was never able to attend a private school growing up. Along with having a nice home, or a nice car, and financial security, affording private school had to be earned through wise life decisions , preparations, and sacrifices. Tax payers are already paying for public education. If there are public schools not meeting the standards of education, clean house. That has got to be cheaper than $81 million. There are plenty of teachers looking for jobs. This is wrong people. What is next? What is on the wish list for those individuals who rely on the hard work of others? In my opinion, this is the Obama way; everyone should have the same, no more, no less , regardless of what it took to have more. Is the path to Communism what we really want?
  • The logic boggles the mind
    So...feeding poor kids is wrong and they shouldn't be dependent on the taxpayer for a necessity as basic as FOOD. But using taxpayer money to send a homeschooled kid to an expensive private school instead is perfectly acceptable? I swear, you guys have turned "fiscal conservative" into an absolute punchline.
  • Everybody Who Said This Would Become A super-highway for tax money to pour into churches
    Can now say "I Told you so!" Now that the scheme is in place, ostensibly at the time to "provide school choice" to students in "failing" public schools, now we see the real users are people who public school has never "failed" because they've never set foot in a public school. Ultimately, this is really about suburban conservatives wanting their kids to attend church and religious schools on the taxpayer dime.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Uh, sorry Johnnie, but you are incorrect. Despite the assertions by yourself and various defenders and captains, sports attendance is NOT off significantly at most sporting events in the US. Variances in attendance has been in the range of single digits, both + & - for years now. MLB has had most of its best overall attendance nubers in the last decade, and that trend has been consistent for most major sporting events. The number one issue cited by most fans when asked about attendance is the overall cost of attending. The presence of HD and big screen televisions in home doesn't even register, as a factor for not attending an event. VALUE in the product is the key, and apparently is something lacking in the current ICS. What other explanation is there when with what is routinely touted as the "best" racing on the planet, fans are staying away in DROVES. A "close" title battle into the last event at Fontana, with the "cars and stars" of the ICS, and who showed up? MAYBE 8K. Sorry, but HD TV isn't to blame for that kind of fan apathy.

  2. Do you need finance to establish your business ? Are you interested in getting a loan at 3% from our private company? If so please Email: suntrust_oil@blumail.org

  3. If she was worth the $ the public outcry over direct tv dropping them would have kept them on their dishes as we have seen with other companies. I too quit watching channel 13 after she showed up since I left channel 8 because of her all show rather than production results. When Randy on 8 corrected her she had a big head and incorrectly challenged his correction for pronunciation of a city. Other antics while she matures was too much for me with her very inaccurate forecasts. All the forecasters were predicting rain until Thursday except Chris. They predicted sunny on Thursday but instead of rain until Thursday upon which the sun would finally make it out in full glory Chris was right on the money just as I too predicted looking at the radar on weather.gov. One thing I love about Angela is the fear you can see in her every time it thunders in the winter. It far exceeds the entertainment value of her body language (high heel noise drags, depression, etc) when her forecasts are so incorrect. Her hair stands on end, you have to see it!!!

  4. Good Day, Apply For A Loan I am Mr Fernadez Antonio, a private Loan lender and a cooperate financial for real estate and any kinds of business financing. I also offer Loans to individuals, Firms and cooperate bodies at 3% interest rate We offer any kind of loans. email us via fernadezloaninvest@outlook.com LOAN APPLICATION FORM First name:......................... Middle name:......................... Last name:........................................ Date of birth (yyyy-mm-dd):....................... Gender:........................................... Marital status:................................... Total Amount Needed............................... Loan Duration.................................... Address:.......................................... City:............................................. State/province:................................... Zip/postal code:.................................. Country:.......................................... Phone:............................................ Fax:.............................................. Mobile/cellular:.................................. Monthly Income.................................... Occupation:....................................... Best Regard, Mr Fernadez Antonio.

  5. i will love to share my testimony to you all the people in world i got married to my husband about 2 year ago we start having problems at home like we stop sleeping on the same bed,fighting about little things he always comes home late at night,drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side i have never love any man in my life except him. he is the father of my child and i don't want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today .few month ago he now decided to live me and the kid,being a single mother can be hard sometimes and so i have nobody to turn to and i was heart broken.i called my mom and explain every thing to her,my mother told me about DR.okoro how he helped her solve the problem between her and my dad i was surprise about it because they have been without each other for three and a half years and it was like a miracle how they came back to each other. i was directed to DR. okoro on his email:okorospell@gmail.com and explain everything to him,so he promise me not to worry that he will cast a spell and make things come back to how we where so much in love again and that it was another female spirit that was controlling my husband he told me that my problem will be solved within two days if i believe i said OK So he cast a spell for me and after two days my love came back asking me to forgive him i Am so happy now. so that why i decided to share my experience with every body that have such problem contact Dr okoro the great spell caster on his email addresses spellcasterforlove@outlook.com

ADVERTISEMENT