We Don’t Care What the Evidence Says….

The Indiana General Assembly is finally going home, concluding a session which most sane Hoosiers couldn’t wait to see come to an end. There was plenty of bad policy to go around (RFRA, anyone?) but–as has become typical during the Pence Administration– city schools took the greatest hit. The final budget slashed funding for urban public schools in districts serving the poorest populations, while raising amounts for rural, charter and voucher schools.

Once again, the legislature took money from the state’s most strapped public schools to increase funding for Pence’s ill-considered voucher program–currently one of the most extensive in the nation. Indiana has close to 30,000 students receiving public funds to attend private schools, some 80% of which are religious.

To add insult to injury, lawmakers also took oversight of voucher schools away from Superintendent Glenda Ritz, and moved it to the Governor’s office. According to the Indianapolis Star

A proposal was slipped in the state’s new $31.5 billion budget without public debate, moving calculation of school voucher costs from Ritz’s Department of Education to Pence’s board and shifts control over which schools qualify to receive vouchers.

If anyone thinks Pence’s office is competent to do either job, I have a bridge to sell you…

Whatever one thinks of charter schools, at least they remain part of the public system. Vouchers are another thing altogether. There are plenty of reasons to object to the growth of the state’s voucher program–vouchers bleed money from the public schools, have been shown to re-segregate students, and give parents choices without providing them with the information they need in order to inform those choices. (In Louisiana, a significant percentage teach creationism and other “biblical truths.”) Most also fail to deliver.

Proponents defend vouchers as a means of escape from “failing” public schools; the obvious implication/promise is that students will receive a better education in the private schools to which they take those vouchers.

The evidence does not support that promise.

According to a report from the bipartisan Center for Tax and Budget Accountability in Chicago, school choice in Indiana is “designed to funnel taxpayer money to private schools, with little evidence that demonstrates improved academic achievement for students who are most at risk.” The study compared Indiana’s program with those in Milwaukee, Cleveland and Washington, D.C. – some of the oldest voucher programs in the country – where they say they found similar results.

The study replicates several others that have been conducted since “school choice” programs became the easy answer to struggling schools.

Virtually all scholars who have examined the performance of voucher schools have concluded that academic gains range from none to minimal. The single improvement that has been documented is parental satisfaction; when parents feel they have had a choice, they are more empowered and exhibit more positive attitudes.

Hoosier taxpayers are paying a lot for that parental satisfaction.

The vast majority of Hoosier children, who remain in public schools being purposely drained of necessary resources in order to support private (mostly religious) education, are paying a lot more.


  1. This is interesting.

    I attempted to make a larger post, of which you see segments.

    I linked to a Youtube video on the PoliceStateUSA channel discussing the Prussian model of education, and the presence of that link got the entire post “awaiting moderation.”

    That’s a mighty smart filter to cross-check against a Youtube author.

  2. Gopper; there is no possible intelligent response to this verbiage; you have outdone yourself with this statement.

    “Public schools were actually instituted to make obedient citizens, not to make smart kids.”

  3. I haven’t seen the name “Kilroy” since 1945 when I was in the Army. “Kilroy was Here” was scribbled on practically every john door. I never met Kilroy. At this point, I’m sort of happy about that.

  4. JoAnn:

    The statement to which you object is absolute fact. Horace Mann and his ilk were proud of it and boasted of it.


    Don’t just shriek about and say “I can’t argue with this.” Actually argue with it.

  5. Gopper; this may come as a big surprise to your way of viewing education in this country today but…Horace Mann was born in the late 1700’s, was active politically in the early to mid 1800’s and a member of the Whig party – the surpise being this country has changed in many ways since those long ago days. Especially regarding education for all children in all forms and on all levels. The Whig party supported supremacy of Congress over the President – it appears we are currently being governed by a reinactment of the Whig party under the name of GOP.

    Per Wikipedia: “Whig was then a widely recognized label of choice for people who identified opposing tyranny.” Whoops! Congress has become tyranical today so guess I was wrong that the GOP is a reinactment of the Whig party or the Whig party didn’t consider empowering Congress over the President as tyrany or the GOP has invented that third “party” I referred to a few days ago which another commenter called a third “source”. Whatever; education today is not what it was when Horace Mann and his ilk were in power.

  6. @Paul: That is kind of the joke. no one ever meets Kilroy, but he was here. And @KiIroy_Was_Here is my twitter handle.

    What has kind of amazed me about this conversation is I am pretty far left by Indiana standards. But that doesn’t mean we all have to agree on every issue. I am also anti-union, pro-law enforcement (ironic considering the former), and for small government. Which I guess would have made me a good republican 30-40 years ago. The social issues push me to the left though.

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