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Indiana

Or you can live in Windy City, where they close charter schools and the City is run by the new head of Chicago's teacher's union. Did I mention we have low taxes and crime?


Indiana Sets the School Voucher Pace

The Hoosier State expands choice to nearly all K-12 students.

By The Editorial Board, WSJ

May 4, 2023 6:39 pm ET


The hits keep coming on school choice in Republican-run states, and the latest good news comes from Indiana. Hoosier lawmakers passed the state budget last week, and it expands the school voucher program so nearly all students will be eligible.


The state’s voucher program, established in 2011, is currently open to students whose family incomes don’t exceed 300% of the federal income requirement for free- and reduced-price lunch eligibility. Students must also meet one of several other criteria, such as being assigned to a failing public school or being in foster care. Each voucher is worth up to 90% of the state per-pupil funding amount, or roughly $6,000, and can be used for tuition at private schools.


The new law raises the income cap to 400% of the free- and reduced-price lunch income level, which is now about $220,000 for a family of four. The bill also removes the other criteria for eligibility so that any family under the income limit can apply. Tens of thousands of additional students could qualify, and a legislative analysis projects that some 95,000 students might use the program in 2025, up from about 53,000 in 2023.


“We would say it’s universal,” Betsy Wiley of the Institute for Quality Educationtold the Indiana Capital Chronicle. Early estimates suggest only 3.5% of families with school-age children in Indiana would not be eligible for the program under the new income limit, she said.


Lawmakers also expanded the state’s tax-credit scholarship program by lifting the income cap, and they added a measure that allows charter schools in some counties to receive more funds from local tax initiatives. They also created Career Scholarship Accounts of $5,000, similar to education savings accounts, for students in apprenticeships or work-based learning programs.


Despite Republican control of both chambers and the governorship, the expansion met with some resistance. The original Senate budget bill omitted the voucher expansion that the House included, but with leadership from House Speaker Todd Huston, lawmakers agreed to the House proposals.


The principle at work here is that taxpayer education money for grades K-12 should follow the child, rather than school districts. The goal is to make it easier to establish new charters or other schools that give parents a choice that’s the best for their child.


Indiana’s success is a lesson for conservatives that victories can be incremental. The original voucher program, created under former Gov. Mitch Daniels, made as much progress as politically possible at the time and created the foundation and built political support for last week’s bill. That’s how progressives built the welfare state, and reformers can use the same strategy to free K-12 education from the clutches of the teachers unions. Are you paying attention, Texas Republicans?


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