I don’t know about anyone else, but I?m awfully tired of seeing my tax dollars diverted from proper government functions (paving highways, paying police) to fund the ideological (not to be confused with logical) fixations of a few legislators. Some of this session’s proposals are not just bad policy, they are positively surreal.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m awfully tired of seeing my tax dollars diverted from proper government functions (paving highways, paying police) to fund the ideological—not to be confused with “logical”—fixations of a few legislators. Some of this session’s proposals are not just bad policy, they are positively surreal.
What if a law was introduced that gave Kroger a tax credit and required Marsh to pay for it? The law would also require Marsh to hire anyone who applied for a job, whether or not the applicant could speak English or count, and whether or not Marsh needed more employees. Meanwhile, the state would conduct daily inspections of Marsh’s produce (but not Kroger’s) and issue stiff fines when the fruit didn’t measure up.
You’d think the sponsor was either nuts or on Kroger’s payroll.
What, then, are we supposed to make of HB 1009? This potentially huge new spending bill would transfer money from Indiana’s struggling public schools to fund two new entitlements: tuition vouchers for students who leave public schools to attend private ones, and a tuition tax credit to be used by parents of children who have never been in the public system at all. Meanwhile, neither HB 1009 nor any other law—not the misnamed “No Child Left Behind,” not Indiana Public Law 221—currently requires the private schools that will benefit from this infusion of our tax dollars to meet the accountability standards imposed on public schools.
There are an estimated 135,000 students who have never been in Indiana’s public schools; these are children who have always been home-schooled or privately educated whose parents will benefit from the tax credit provision. That is, public schools already reeling from budget cuts will now have to find the money to pay for 135,000 students they’ve not been educating.
Adding insult to injury, the bill allows private schools to reject students for whom they don’t have room, or those with disabilities, or those whose “academic achievement” doesn’t meet their requirements. Public schools do not have that luxury; they already teach over three times the number of special education students that private schools do. Public schools also teach four times the number of students qualifying for financial aid and more than ten times the number of non-English-speaking students.
The bill contains no provision for follow-up. Once students leave the public system, the only thing that follows them is the money. No inquiry is made, no test administered, to see what (if anything) they are achieving. There are no safeguards against the sorts of fraud that were rampant in Ohio under a voucher program a few years ago.
Cynics have suggested that the $448,000 donated to the campaigns of selected Representatives by “All Children Matter,” a pro-school-choice PAC, is behind HB 1009. But it is also motivated by the ideological argument that “private” is always better than “public.”
Private groceries are certainly preferable to state-run establishments, but then, they don’t depend on our tax dollars. That’s why we call them private.