The Indiana Legislature on Thursday joined the growing ranks of policymakers nationwide who either are launching or shoring up programs to provide more educational choice to families.
In Indiana’s case, it’s the latter; the state created its first voucher plan in 2011, in which more than a quarter-million students have participated.
This week, the Legislature approved a budget that will take the program to 48,000 students a year from about 37,000. Choice provisions in the budget have three main components.
The first raises the income cap for eligibility from $96,000 to $145,000 per year, which would allow up to 90% of the state’s children to participate. The bill also would increase the voucher amount to 90% of tuition support levels.
Another provision would establish education savings accounts for children with special needs.
Additionally, the budget increases per-student grants for charter schools from $750 to $1,000 next year and $1,250 in the second year.
Betsy Wiley, president of the Institute for Quality Education, hailed the decision.
“Ten years after Indiana passed the Choice Scholarship Program, the state legislature has acted,” Wiley said, “once again to make Indiana a national leader in K-12 education by expanding educational options to many more hard-working middle-class Hoosier families and students.”
Former Gov. Mitch Daniels echoed Wiley.
“Providing poor and minority families the same choice of schools that their wealthier neighbors enjoy is the purest example of ‘social justice’ in our society today,” Daniels said.