Choice And Consequences

As regular readers of this blog know (and as yesterday’s post confirmed) I am not a fan of school vouchers. My concerns range from the philosophical to the practical, and the emerging research has confirmed most of the practical ones.

One consequence of voucher programs that is rarely, if ever, addressed (although, I will immodestly point out that I have addressed it): the unfair impact on small towns. Vouchers were first promoted as a way to allow poor kids to escape failing inner-city schools. (Ignore, for now, the fact that in Indiana, at least, most vouchers are being used by white kids who are leaving non-failing schools for religious ones…).

Most small towns don’t have enough students to support an alternative to the public school. Since most private schools accepting vouchers are in cities large enough to have inner-cities and multiple schools, and since they are receiving tax dollars paid by people throughout the state, small towns are effectively subsidizing private schools in more metropolitan areas.

Recently, I came across an illustration of this inequity. It’s a story from Stinesville, Indiana, a town I will readily admit I’d never heard of, although I was born (and will undoubtedly die) in Indiana.

With the largest private school voucher program in the country, and a charter sector that has grown “explosively,” Indiana is a poster state for the kinds of education policies pushed by President Trump and his Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. But for small rural communities, the growth of school choice over the past six years is now forcing another choice: whether to close the public schools that are at their heart as competing schools pull students and money away. As vouchers and charters were sold to voters, the cost to small towns like Stinesville, IN, where officials voted this week to shutter the elementary school, was left out of the sales pitch.

The article reports on a school board meeting held just last month, at which the decision to close the school was the agenda item.

On this night, October 18, 2017, despite the sleepy look of the downtown street, there is nothing sleepy about school’s parking lot. It is packed. Inside, the gym is full of people, filling the folding chairs that have been set on the floor, and squeezing into the bleachers. Many are wearing red. There are parents with young children, teenagers, and plenty of older people too.

The superintendent explained why he advocated closing Stinesville Elementary School and busing the children to Ellettsville, population 6,600, six miles away: declining enrollment, declining funds and escalating costs.

So what does this have to do with vouchers? The article explains.

As the voucher and charter programs were explained and advertised as “school choice” to the public, one corollary fact was not included: Indiana residents might lose a choice that many of us have taken for granted for decades—the ability to send our kids to a local, well-resourced public school. The kind of school that serves lunch and participates in the federal school lunch program. The kind of school that provides transportation. The kind of school that has certified teachers and a library and is in a district obligated by law to accept all children in the attendance area, including those with profound special needs, and to provide them a free and appropriate public education….

Governor Daniels cut $300 million from the state budget for K-12 in 2009, during the recession. That money was never replaced even as the economy began to recover. Indiana voters wrote tax caps into the state constitution through a referendum in 2010, weakening the ability of local governments to provide services.

Since 2011, public dollars being diverted from the public school system to charters and vouchers have ballooned. By the end of 2015, according to an analysis done by the Legislative Services Agency at the request of Democratic state representative Ed Delaney, $920 million had been spent on charters and vouchers. From its inception in 2011 through the 2016-2017 school year, the voucher program cost Indiana taxpayers $516.5 million.

The article documents the dollars diverted to religious schools from Stinesville’s public school, which had been ranked as one of the state’s most effective, and references research on the negative effects suffered by small communities that lose their schools.

I notice that proponents of “school choice” never discuss these issues.


  1. From my front porch I can look across Meridian street into a part of Indianapolis that can only be described as affluent. Yet many of these residents can and do take school vouchers to send their children to Chatard, Catherdral and Brebeuf along with all of the other numerouse Catholic and Lutheran elementary schools. There is are at least two if not three excellent IPS elementary schools within walking distance of this affluent area, but the parents that opt for private school take the vouchers at the insistance of the school that claims it is their moral duty to claim that money from the state. These private schools also benefit from a tax-deductible contributions to a scholarsip fund that provides financial aid for private schools to offer students and their families and the Catholic system requires any family requesting financial aid to apply for the voucher. Vouchers come off of the “top” of the state funds, so that money is distrubuted first, then the public schools take what is left. Public schools that are mandated to provide transportation, services for all children and must take every child that enters their door. Additionally, local public schools have legacy costs – buildings, furnishings, grounds and vehicles that voucher and charter schools do not have to have. All of this adds up to small school corporations like the one where the Stinesville school is located to cut back staff, service and transportation or close altogether.

    This system creates schools of the “haves and the “have-nots.” As one mother told me just last week when she was picking up her daughter at the inner-city public school where I teach, “why can’t we have a school in our neighborhoood like they have in Carmel or Fishers?” Funding private schools, charter schools run by private companies, giving huge tax breaks for home-schooling and private school scholarships is destroying our private schools.

  2. Sheila,

    That lovely and sad piece you are referring to was written by a member of our board, Jenny Robinson. The board I am referring to is that of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education–Monroe County, which I chair. We are a volunteer-run organization that is dedicated to advocating for public education. We seek to inform the public about the issues surrounding the attack on public education and empower them to act on behalf of public education–ideally through the voting booth. See our website here:

    Indiana is the poster child for the “reform” or privatization of public education primarily through the laws written by ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and passed by our state legislature. The tying of test scores to teachers’ jobs and pay, the loss of their collective bargaining over things like class sizes, the bleeding of funds through vouchers to private religious schools and charters which don’t have the same public accountability, the A-F grading of public schools which disproportionately harms schools with high concentrations of children in poverty–all of this adds up to a death for public ed–by a thousand cuts. Betsy DeVos has been working with ALEC and other organizations to promote this marketplace model of education and the future for our children and our country will be harmed in the process.

    Are we about equal educational opportunity? Will we stop this redirecting of funding to charters and vouchers with the euphemistically named policy of “school choice”? Because, as Stinesville has discovered, your choice for your child (and, let’s always bear in mind that the SCHOOLS CHOOSE who comes in, who stays, etc) comes at a cost to choices for ALL children in this model.
    Let’s choose democracy–public education which is there for every child and, if not, helping it achieve that is helping create that opportunity for all.

  3. Public education is coming up to the brink of almost total privatization. My now-deceased wife, professor of education and a Lutheran, used to tell me that if we lived next door to a Lutheran school that the children would go to public school. She was aware early on of the conceptual value of public as opposed to private education and the funding process by which politicians diverted taxpayer money to a private education system consistently proven by credible research to be inferior to public schooling, a political process rather than one based on good research by surveys of results. Thus, quite aside from the political moves of such as DeVos whether inspired by religion or profit-making by corporate America, there is an economic side of this issue, too, and it is this: We are not getting our money’s worth – and can prove it.

  4. Being educated in public schools for 12 years during the 1940s and 1950s; religious schools during those years and before were attended for religious reasons only. They were not thought of as “private” schools but simply the option of parents to educate their children in schools which included classes in their religious preference. Public schools during those years were “neighborhood” schools but did NOT allow all school age children in the neighborhood to attend; Black students could only attend specified public schools – IF they had a way to get there. My neighborhood was between the old Victory Field on West 16th Street and Riverside Park on West 30th Street was School #44; I was in 4th or 5th grade when I understood the Black children who resided in that neighborhood were required to attend School #41 near West 27th Street and Northwestern Avenue, now Martin Luther King Boulevard. Those of you familiar with Indianapolis west side will understand the difficulty/impossibility of getting children transported that far in an age when not everyone had a car.

    In my 30’s I became friends with a Black couple who were teachers at School #41 for years and became trained counselors when integration began in earnest. They supported the public school system and stuck with it till retirement. Public schools lost many good teachers in the 1970’s when teaching requirements and limitations on their authority over students (going beyond the set curriculum as well as authority over student behavior) became limited in scope and they lost control over classes. Many left; others protested and marched and some were arrested for their attempts to be allowed to TEACH. Those problems were never addressed and increased when forced busing began throughout Marion County. The public school situation has worsened and rather than address the problems intelligently, the loss of public education tax dollars began long before Charter schools and voucher students. It has reached a level which I view as including education in the current expanding economical Caste System nation-wide.

    It no longer takes the financial ability to enroll students in”private” (primarily religious) schools; simply apply for a voucher…it appears to be guaranteed to one and all. Or has it returned to the segregated system I knew in the 1940s and 1950s; are there statistics to show the percentage of approved white students “qualifying” for vouchers over all others?

  5. As I wrote yesterday, peaceful civil disobedience is called for to challenge the voucher system and destroy it.

  6. Teresa Kendall,
    Can you point me to the place on the website that explains how school funding is created and distributed to the school systems within the state?
    A few years ago I called the Purdue professor that is considered the expert on the ridiculously complicated formula for property taxes to ask why half million dollar homes in my county were paying $0 in property taxes and taxes on homes worth less than $100K had more than doubled. He tried to explain the complicated formula to me and at the time I sort of understood it, but the thing that stuck out to me the most was how the formula takes into account your income. A higher income reduces your property taxes. A lower income increased them. I recall being shocked that income was a variable in the formula.

  7. This book has been around awhile, this has been going on in Indiana for quite some time.

    “To anyone who questions the existence of the privatization movement, I recommend Doug Martin’s “Hoosier School Heist.” Martin is a blogger who holds a Ph.D. in nineteenth century American literature. He is a native of Indiana who is deeply versed in that state’s school politics and its major (and minor) players. His book is eye-opening; actually, his book is eye-popping. It is a no-holds-barred critique of Indiana’s politically and financially powerful privatization movement.”

  8. Copied and pasted from “School Vouchers and the Indiana Constitution”; November 30, 2012:

    “Article 1, Section 6 of the Indiana Constitution says, simply, “No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution.”

    Supporters of Indiana’s school voucher program insist that doesn’t mean the state can’t fund religion. Vouchers are state funds, after all; and most of the schools getting them are religious institutions. Some law professors and school-law experts say the Indiana Supreme Court is likely to declare the voucher program acceptable.”

    Prophetic words; proving the Indiana State Constitution is a meaningless as the Constitution of the United States has become to the Republican party.

  9. POLICY AND PLANS is a course at Ball State which used to be required for advanced degrees in school administration. I took that course. Everything it taught evolved from one basic fundamental of nationhood–that a nation’s existential being is as dependent on the education of its citizens as it is on the shock and awe of its military, and THAT FACT ALONE creates the mission of public education. Therefore, the class taught, every educational decision and policy must in some way contribute to the nation’s strength. Quality public education does not derive from any virtue. The fundamental reason we educate our children is NOT because we are generous, or sensitive to their needs. Education ought not come of the demands of a nation’s people or of the needs of its leadership. A nation’s devotion to quality public education derives of the weakness which ignorance creates and arises from the ability of an educated public to correct that weakness. One can argue that–if the outcome of privatized education produces data that is inferior to measurements of public education results–the effort then to privatize education is contrary to the national interest, even anti-American in its pro-Christian/religious bent, and maybe traitorous in its desire to subordinate the national interests to special interests…of any kind.

  10. The decline of our city and state has been the flawed and cloaked Apartied leadership of privatization. Our country is feeling the ripple defects of this greed and nationalist spirit to keep select people poor and disadvantaged. It heartbreaking to deal with this arrogance and lack of respect for citizens.

  11. Vouchers have allowed for legalized segregation. In Muncie, the public schools are still bleeding because they are losing students to the county schools where “there are fewer problems”.

    When you consider schools are ranked by their standardized test scores which black and brown students don’t do as well as white kids, it just fuels the exodus.

    If the resources leave the poorer schools, I would guess the teachers follow the resources. What’s the motivation to teach in schools with few resources when your salary is contingent on pupils test performance?

    Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence knew exactly what would happen. It’s talked about in closed-door meetings with the Donor Class.

    The goal from the very beginning (the 1980’s) was to destroy the public school system so it could be privatized. See Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics.

  12. Nancy, understanding school funding is like trying to figure out the difference between you second cousin and your cousin once removed.

    The basics are this; Indiana like most states uses about 50 to 60 % of state revenue to fund pulic education from Pre-K to University. Federal funds get mixed in also. What really matters is the fact that voucher money comes off of the top of the education fund. So before any public school, college, vocational school, anything public – the state dishes out the money for vouchers. The publics get what is left over and it is divided according to the school funding formula, which changes from time to time. This method of stealing money from the public causes the biggest problem for the smaller school corps for now because they are paying for rich and upper middle class white people to send their kids to a religious school.

    If you want to understand the formula, you need to contact your state rep and have them explain it to you. If they do not (because most don’t understand it) you should try Ed Delaney, he’s great guy and understand this stuff.


  13. Apparently the idea of public education is abhorrent to the GOP. Why would that be?

    Perhaps because it connotes such diversity. So many races and religions and income levels and talents and even genders.

    They ask how can a person be prepared for real life among such a hodgepodge of humanity?

    Of course the question that gets begged is what will life be like when children being educated today reach adulthood?

    Apparently authoritarians think that it will be more monolithic and liberals think that it will be more diverse. Perhaps that’s a self fulfilling prophecy that depends on who’s in power between now and then.

  14. Parochial (Christian) schools contribute to the dumbing down of America by emphasizing mythology over science.

  15. As far back as I care to remember, wingnuts have been bent on destroying public education. They appear to be getting away with it.

  16. All of this mess is nothing more than a heist or robbery of America’s future. It’s criminal, plain & simple. Prosecution of the DEVIANT ELITES for FUTURCIDE in the Court of Public Opinion is our last and only hope.

  17. Todd,

    You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned Friedman and the Chicago “School” of Economics. This cockeyed theory was embraced by the Reagan-ites and attempts were made then to destroy public education. This has been the meme of Republican politics since then.

    Few people want to take on Reagan as the genesis for destructive government, aka neoliberalism, aka Republican divisiveness and racist impetus. But, the fact remains that EVERY Republican president, except, perhaps, G.H.W. Bush, has tried to push this “trickle-down” nonsense. Why? Because their donors get rich.

    As you in Indiana have so thoroughly stated, Republicans are out to destroy those aspects of our society and culture that did, or tried to make us a great nation, “of many, one.” Why? Money. Only money. The greed associated with this kind of monotheism is so blinding that seeing the ripple effects is simply not on the radar of the Republican politicians…and not ENOUGH on the radar of Democrats either.

    One of the reasons great societies fail (Egypt, Rome, et. al.) is that they stopped educating their children. Each generation MUST be educated better than the previous one, because so much has been added to the book of knowledge. The charter/voucher program EXCLUDES those children who need that education the most.

    The Germans have a great word for this situation: “Ausgeseichnet” (Unbelievable)

  18. betty devos, erik prince,mercenary territory?or another dynasty? maybe some should hold these families who try and funnel power for their aggenda,aka bush,clinton,etc should be under the most scrutiny. power,and money,or is that the new norm now? taking our children for the sake of their,AGGENDA,is truly sick. our children should never be a pawn in game of their lives.. if the education system is wrought with problems,as i see it, its not a problem,except with the people promoting opinons that only generate money for themselves,at our childrens expense. the labor union has the highest standards,but,its not defended by the very people who depend on the teachers to provide. media slants it,look at the chicago school system. its always being slanted,because we cant,or wont support it. If anyone ever approaches you saying im older,my kids are on theor own,your childs education shouldnt be my concern,look at them in the eye and say,”with the aggenda being tought today in conservitive ethics,by time your ready to die,my child maybe the one who,through his learning in these schools,may just pull the plug on you,in your death bed,”Think about that….

  19. I like the IKEA thing.

    Of course in real life both sets of skills are required, the creative and the rote. Some will lean more towards one, others to the other.

    That’s why diversity needs to be learned as early as possible along with the idea of collaboration and teamwork. Getting things done requires blockers and runners and throwers and catchers and coaches and players and those that choose football come in sizes and skills to suit only some of what’s required.

    Betsy DeVos never had a chance to learn that.

  20. EdChoice, formerly know as the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Is headquartered in Indianapolis. Milton Friedman presented school choice to Southern governors in 1955 (Brown v. Board was decided in 1954) as a means to keep public schools segregated by funding “academies” that insured white and black students would never occupy the same public schools.
    The history of the movement is rooted in racism, now morphed to include religion and economic class. Greed has just exacerbated a deeply divisive poison in our cultural, religious and political system. School choice is just the latest iteration of Jim Crow.
    The lie is that the money follows the child through the choice of the parent. Public tax money is not given to the religious institution directly. We know that the money does not follow the student but remains with the school. Private schools using vouchers and charters can and do exclude those students who have any issue that put a drain on the cash flow.
    Please read the latest on Florida’s voucher program. It almost makes Indiana look not so bad by comparison.

  21. Todd Smekens comments are apropos. Also,the public and teachers themselves are to blame as well. When the schools became segregated,white flight ensued from those areas being segregated–this was a national phenom/response to segregation. Many parents chose to send their children to private schools (in Indianapolis mostly Catholic schools). Opportunists saw their chance, and of course,those wanting to privatize every piece of public infrastructure saw their opportunity as well. Parents bought into the voucher system. Teachers and administrators fled to the suburbs for higher pay, and they too–wanted to get away from THOSE PEOPLE!

    After a few decades of this,now we are here,and we did it to ourselves and ALLOWED those interests/opportunists (such as Mitch Daniels) to erode the school systems. IPS is a good example,how many here live within the IPS system? Do/did your children attend IPS? Moreover,notice how Daniels treats the university system as President of Purdue differently, as opposed to his slice and dice efforts of the public school system? The truth is the political class in America doesn’t believe in public education. The public is seen only as fodder for their war chest and as consumers,nothing more. It is a war. The truth is there hasn’t been much of a resistance in the previous decades to all of this privatization and erosion of the things that made America a beacon to others. Also,many Democrats have bought into it as well.

  22. Teresa, thanks for the extra info. No reason to bother contacting my state rep – he is Dave Wolkins, the state chair for ALEC.

  23. Btw,it’s worth mentioning ,all of the above predates Trump and Devos in office.

    Marv:” What would we think if a Bank was robbed of all its assets and the executives and employees did nothing more about it than TALK?”

    Well,that did kinda happen……..I guess the only conclusion to such nefarious efforts would be to give those responsible/guilty of stripping the bank of its assets is a hearty get out of jail card and a subsequent replenishing of those assets with taxpayer dollars. Oh,and yes,the guilty should be allowed to give themselves a bonus from those taxpayer dollars for their efforts.

  24. The selling of America’s seed corn has been promulgated primarily through the big lie which we, contrary to Orwell’s sound advice, allowed into our lives in exchange for really terrible entertainment.

    It’s the old question of blame criminals for crime or under prepared victims?

    I will always choose government that enforces laws.

    Thus my hero for these times is not Trump et al but Mueller.

  25. Received an E-Mail from Center For Inquiry –
    “On Monday, we alerted you that the House GOP tax reform bill might repeal or weaken the Johnson Amendment.

    Well, the tax bill has been made public, and they did it.
    Provision 5201 of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act gives churches the privilege of openly endorsing political candidates while retaining their tax-exempt status. Other nonprofit organizations, such as the Center for Inquiry, are still banned from endorsing candidates.

    If this provision becomes law, houses of religious worship will become tax-subsidized promotional vehicles for the religious right. Even churches that wish to stay out of politics will be placed under enormous pressure to promote the preferred candidates of their donors. We cannot allow the religious right to smash down the wall of separation between church and state like this”.

    Further from the CFI Web Site:
    President Trump has pledged to “totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment, the federal law that prohibits non-profits organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates for public office.

    The law does not prohibit non-profits and their leaders from engaging in politics. There is no ban on preaching or lobbying on any moral matter. Houses of worship and their leaders can and often do speak out and take positions on a range of political, economic, and social issues — including war, poverty, human rights, abortion, contraception, and more. They can also engage in partisan political activities in their capacities as private citizens.

    Ministers and priests could direct their flock from the pulpit to vote for particular individuals. In exchange, those elected officials will be expected to push the regressive social agenda of the religious right: restricting access to abortion and contraception; discriminating against the LGBTQ community; replacing science classes with creationist dogma in our public schools.

    You can probably fill in the blanks, where Religious Leaders will be able to legally endorse the Trump-Pence Team, etc., or others politicians that meet their religious litmus test.

  26. William,

    Let me clarify my statement about PROSECUTION. It is clear that the DEVIANT ELITE in the U.S. is endangering the Planet. I’m talking about prosecution outside the U.S. in the [world] Court of Public Opinion.

    There’s no chance to do anything substantial, at this time, in the U.S. Lets face it, we’ve been “royally screwed.”

    You might want to take a look at: “The Crime and Punishment of I.G. Farben: The Unholy Alliance between Hitler and the Great Chemical Combine” by Joseph Borkin (The Free Press, London, 1978).

    “In the Councils of Government, we must guard against the acquisition of an UNWARRANTED INFLUENCE, whether sought or unsought by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic process.”

    ~President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Farewell Address to the Nation, January 17, 1961

  27. Jo Ann:

    As I wrote in response to Professor Kennedy’s article yesterday, the Indiana Supreme Court decided in 2013 that Indiana’s — then newly broadly expanded — school voucher program didn’t violate the provisions of either Art. 8, Sec 1, Art.. 1, Sec. 4, or Art. 1, Sec. 6 of the Indiana Constitution. BTW: it was an unanimous opinion. Here’s a link to the somewhat lengthy ISCT opinion if anyone cares to read it :

    The Indiana Supreme Court’s decision probably wasn’t all that terribly surprising since the U.S. Supreme Court had previously held in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris in 2002 that publicly funded vouchers for K-12 education didn’t violate the United States Constitution because the choice of a voucher was voluntary and the parent, not the state, made the decision to choose a sectarian or non-sectarian school.

    So at this point, legal challenges to Indiana’s, or any other state’s, school voucher programs based on either the U.S. or Indiana Constitutions have virtually no chance of success; especially given the shift to the right of the judiciary in both the federal and state courts since then.

  28. The voucher program puts the money on each students placement. The choice ( usually the parents) decide where their child will go. Most parents want what’s good for their kids i.e. learning good critical thinking skills toward building an effective life. “Parochial” schools have to follow a state approved curriculum, and have a high rate of success. Not all religious people are averse to fact & science, and comparative religion & philosophy are taught. People who prefer this environs for kids “don’t want to have to pay twice” for their kids education. The down side of the public school system i.e. lower success rate, is yielding to a market model. The vitriol toward families trying to educate their kids is misplaced.

  29. David F; it has become obvious in recent years that we cannot trust court decisions as being wise, just or correct…although most of the decisions are “right”, as in “far right” Republican decisions. Think of Citizens United and the loss of civil and voting rights through SCOTUS.

    Regarding my situation in court and my Victim Impact Statement; the defendant was sentenced to 46 years, 25 to be actually served IN Department of Corrections, 21 years suspended, 12 of those years to be served on Probation – NOT Parole. The court date was May 23, 2016; since then I have received FIVE letters from DOC asking if I want to seek a Protective Order, the defendant’s release date is already set for May 26, 2026. Do the math! Using the old subtraction system I learned in the 1940s in public school, that comes to 10 (TEN) years, not 25 or close to it. I have not responded to these letters so common sense should tell DOC officials I am not interested in a Protective Order but I assume they will continue sending letters. I will be 90, if I am still alive in 2026, and Mark Jones will be the least of my worries.

    Our Justice System at work using our tax dollars sadly to the best of their ability.

  30. My apologies to Professor Kennedy and the devoted readers of her Blog, but this is mainly for Jo Ann.

    Nonetheless, in response to Jo Ann’s memories about segregation in the I.P.S. in the 1950’s, which continued all the way through most of the 70’s, this post contains a small bit of Indianapolis’ history from my experiences, that now is either mainly forgotten or many would like to forget.

    Jo Ann: I and my older sister, also, attended I.P.S. Riverside School #44 on Sugar Grove (East of Harding Street, just North of the old Victory (later Bush) Field baseball stadium on 16th Street) up until late 1955 or early 1956. BTW: P.S. 44 was housed in a classic looking red brick building.

    While your description of the segregation of Blacks in IPS at the time pretty much matches mine, both my recollection, and that of my older sister too, is that there were in fact at least a couple of Black children who were in our respective classes at 44. In my class, it was a boy named Kenny. And in my sister’s class it was a girl named Stephanie.

    I don’t recall their last names now, nor do I recall if they were related to each other. Also, my personal recollection is that, for the most part, Kenny was largely accepted as being just another kid in our class as he had been in and part of our class since kindergarten (although if I could find and talk to Kenny today, I’m sure he could recount many instances of racism that he suffered at P.S. 44). I have no idea why — at least — those two Black children were allowed to attend PS 44 with White kids, while almost all other Blacks kids were sent further away to all Black PS #41.

    But to emphasize your point about segregation in IPS. At that time, upon graduating from the 8th grade, the White kids at #44 were assigned to attend all White Manual H.S., which was miles away, all the way across town on the Southside (some might have been able to attend Shortridge, but the majority were sent to Manual). And to get to Manual from our near Westside neighborhood, the White kids had to take a city bus, including transfers downtown, back and forth to school every day. On the other hand, Kenny and Stephanie would have had to go to (then) all Black Crispus Attucks H.S., which was geographically the closest H.S. to PS #44.

    Pretty ironically IMO, I would much later learn that Attucks was actually a much better academic school at the time than Manual was. The majority of the teachers at Attucks were college educated Blacks who weren’t allowed to teach in the White schools. Many of the Black teachers at Attucks had much higher educational backgrounds than many White teachers at White schools, and I was later to meet many Blacks in Indianapolis who had attended Attucks, and had received an outstanding academic H.S. education.

    In fact, I.P.S. remained intentionally racially segregated up until the desegregation law suites filed in Federal Court in the 1970’s, which were bitterly and doggedly fought against by I.P.S. and the an embarrassing large portion of the Indianapolis White establishment all the way through the late 1970’s, finally brought forced school desegregation in I.P.S. to a halt. Some of you older folks may recall the name of the S. Hugh Dillon, the Southern Indiana Federal District Judge, who by the luck of the draw, presided over those suites for decades, and held that I.P.S. was in fact practicing illegal segregation. For which he was vilified for by many Whites at the time.

    Another post-script to the history of racial segregation in Indianapolis: By around 1955, what had once been predominantly working or middle class ( yes, pretty much all White, but ethnically diverse) neighborhoods, where the same families had often lived for several generations (as my father had) on the near Westside of Indy around PS#44 and South Grove golf course, block-by-block, moving steadily northward, had become, or were rapidly becoming predominately Black neighborhoods. As a kid, it seemed to me that sometimes a block would change from nearly all White families to nearly all Black families almost over night.

    For those unaware, this rapid demographic and racial change in these neighborhoods didn’t happen only just by chance, or all by itself. It was brought on by a toxic and ugly mix of racism (as one might expect), but also, importantly, to the greed of “block busting” relators (mostly White), who would buy a house on an all White block, and then, visibly as possible, install a Black family in the house. Then these real estate brokers (IMO “vultures” would be a better description), and their cohorts, would fan out around the surrounding block(s) and neighborhood warning the White folks that they needed to sell quickly before their property values fell because a Black family had moved in (not to speak of the fact that you’d have Black neighbors). BTW: these real estate agents and companies made a fortune for themselves from racial “block busting.”

    As I recall, my family was the last or nearly last White family remaining on our block — and pretty much the surrounding blocks as well, when my parents moved us to the North side of Indy around 1956 (I’m not denying that racism didn’t play any part in my parents’ deciding to move to another all White Northside neighborhood, but the move was made in some part to another demographic change going on which was that my Dad no longer worked downtown, after his employer had moved from downtown to what was then the far-Northside near (the original) North Central H.S., and he no longer could take the bus to work as he had every working day in my life up until then). By the time our family moved, literally none of the families nor the kids I had known all my life, grown up with, and played with still lived in the neighborhood or went to P.S. 44. All had been replaced by Black families and Black kids.

    JoAnn, and anyone else who had the interest and/or patience to read through this, a little bit of Indianapolis history that will probably fade out as our generation moves on.

  31. All,
    I really enjoy reading Dr Kennedy’s blogs and appreciate the thoughtful comments on this and other subjects. However, on the subject of school vouchers I would like to add a few of my thoughts:
    1. Rural schools have been on the decline with enrollment since the the ’60’s because of population decrease in rural areas. Schools were closed or consolidated. This happened long before voucher programs and is due more to the decline of small family farms. It is not unusual for rural students to spend an hour on a bus in the morning and evening depending on where they lived in the county and where the consolidated school was located.
    2. As I understand it a portion of Indiana property tax still goes to the local public school corporation.
    3. I understand the state has a per student formula for education (this can change depending on the district. Recently some districts filed a law suit to change the formula, i.e. Hamilton Southeastern, Noblesville. As I understand this dollar amount goes with the student as to where they wish to attend. When the student leaves a district it is one less person to educate. If you loose 30 first graders you loose one first grade teacher, one less classroom, etc. However, the public school still receives half of the portion allocated per student since the student can only use half of the allocated amount on the voucher.

    Thank you!

  32. funny, I just talked to an older worker from Stinesville yesterday, in Wal Mart. AND, having moved back to Indy for 8th grade and HS, am unfortunately familiar with IPS. I escaped from Arlington HS after being a freshman. LOTS of soft jobs, library locked up except for the ONE DAY/MONTH per student, fortunately an Army brat so went to Ft. Harrison library all the time. Got a D in English 6? because snap 1 page writing quiz, teacher said I copied Atlantic Monthly article but they couldn’t find it, said it was too good for IPS student. Kindly fuddy duddy bow tie Econ teacher (Mr. Fort) called me aside and informed me Brebeuf admission test next Sat. @ Arlington, suggested I take it, got full scholarship to Brebeuf, NOT CATHOLIC, half of students were NOT Catholic, totally different school than Chatard and other PAROCHIAL schools, no religious propaganda, no vouchers either, IPS?, look @ PBS TV article on Attucks and miserable treatment they got, although faculty did better than they were paid for, ( attacked from IPS & IU), if your kid is top OR bottom, special needs, you won’t work well in the taxpayer funded public education factory production line. That’s what GM, Chrysler, et al, discovered once people could select Toyota, Honda, VW, etc. Same here.

  33. Wow, David F; please, what is the “F” for? My maiden name was Laxen; we lived behind the school at 2019 Gent and my youngest brother Billy Joe was in Stephanie’s class, my brother Butch was 3 years older than him. I graduated from #44 in June 1951; the school integration began that September. The principal, Mrs. Ambroz swore to leave if the school was integrated and she did leave. The closest Black children lived two blocks from the school at the end of White Avenue, I think on Pruitt Street. Manual High School may have been miles away but you stayed on the Riverside bus and got off at Manual. I was sent to Shortridge; had to either go to the end of the Riverside line at 30th Street, transfer to the Crosstown bus to Meridian Street and then a 3rd bus to Shortridge. The other option was to go downtown on the Riverside bus, passing Crispus Attucks, then backtrack on the Meridian bus to Shortridge.

    When Dillon (he and I had a run-in later in Juvenile Court over an illegal hold on my son) ordered busing “for quality education, not racial balance, he said”; I fought it due to the hardship on the students. Hardships which remain today often forcing children to stand in the dark waiting for buses, often in unsafe areas, spending usually at least two hours daily on buses. It also ended so many after school activities in neighborhoods where schools and churches were focal points for young people. David, if you have been on the blog long enough you have read my comments about losing “friends” due to being friends with “colored kids” at Tech in the mid-1950s. My stand against racism, bigotry and anti-LGBTQs is stronger than ever today. Cerealine Towne was a great place to grow up while growing up there till I reached the age of understanding the lack of diversity was racist and hatred with no basis but racism and hatred.

    We seem to have survived, learned and grown; many did not. I lost more old neighborhood friends taking my stand for President Obama; supporting him and doing research to send facts to those old friends who unfriended me without being missed. It is nice to run into an old neighbor in a surprising place.

  34. J. England:” Got a D in English 6? because snap 1 page writing quiz, teacher said I copied Atlantic Monthly article but they couldn’t find it, said it was too good for IPS student.”

    Too good for an IPS student?….Hmmmmm. That’s a problem. Too many lousy teachers in the profession. It makes no sense to hire teachers if they have contempt for the population/students of the area they’re teaching/working.”

    Just imagine the contempt a teacher living in Carmel has for the students at Tech. This is an area where the political divides manifests themselves. Unfortunately,those on the receiving end of such garbage are those that cannot even vote just yet.

    Another similar example; Would you want the officer pulling you over to be an avid listener of the Michael Savage Show?

    Btw,in most of my initial post I meant DE-segregation. That’s what I get for typing before I’ve had my coffee. Too funny.

  35. Interesting information today. Thanks for everyone’s input. I guess the best part of being infertile is not having to know about all of these school voucher issues but from what I can gather from these posts, they are bad news. I just know that when I was a child (of the 60s), private schools were for the Catholics and rich people. The rest of us went to public and mine was quite diverse. When I was in 6th grade, our family moved to a ‘whiter’ neighborhood but still was a feeder for the same high school so when I said good-bye to them, I saw them again in high school even though we were only 2-3 miles away. Our 40th Reunion is next June and I can’t wait to see those that are left.

  36. Thank you for highlighting the shift in rural tax dollars from rural to more urban communities via vouchers.

    When I was a lobbyist, I asked voucher proponents if they would limit vouchers to the students in failing schools or failing students. “NO WAY” was the response. You’d have thought they were struck by lightning. Some openly said they didn’t want to force private schools to accept the students that vouchers were supposed to rescue.

    When amendments were proposed to require voucher schools – which were benefiting from tax funds from ALL taxpayers – to accept all students on the same basis as public schools regardless of religion, disability, test scores, ability to speak English, transportation, parental willingness to volunteer, race, etc., the private school lobby said “NO WAY” as did their voucher proponents in the state legislature.

    Legislators of means who lived in good neighborhoods with good schools but who had selected private schools for their own children were those pushing the hardest for vouchers AND the higher income limits for voucher eligibility so that they could benefit from vouchers themselves. Those included legislators who complained loudly and voted against the welfare recipients ‘who feed at the public trough’.

    Voucher proponents said vouchers would improve public schools by making them compete – as if the playing field was level. But private schools can still preference members of their own church congregation, English-speaking kids with the higher test scores, those without wheelchairs and other expensive needs for accommodations, and those who parents are considered most desireable. This ‘creaming’ is re-segregating schools and undermining the great melting pot which is America. If we want students to grow up without understanding others who are different from themselves, Indiana’s school vouchers is exactly the way to get there.

  37. I am a member of the SAVE Stinesville Elementary School committee. We are battling Richland-Bean Blossom Community Schools Corporation (RBBCSC) board. I am also a retired educator of 33 years. I taught my first thirteen years with Stinesville Elementary. Our two sons and now two of our grandchildren attend(ed) there. To say this school is exceptional is a true statement. The school and community make this magnificent family. In the process of my research which included the last three years of board meeting minutes I found that it is true that the current financial set up for schools is definitely working against our small elementary school (Grades K-5, 150 students) But the individual board members have done nothing to help KEEP the school open. In the the past years the Bean Blossom township has lost territory. This area is being absorbed by the larger township, Richland. Changing school district lines has lessened the Stinesville School population. We believe the closing of Stinesville has been in the works for many years. Another item of interest in reading the board minutes was that there was only ONE dissenting vote in the three years. All the votes for any issue was a 5-0 or 4-0. This makes me think that all the decisions to be made WERE made before the meeting started. I am sharing these things to illustrate that sometimes the small, rural school is sacrificed for reasons not shared with the public. By the way, after closing Stinesville, the RBBCSC board is beginning a $45 million building project, most of which goes to the athletics and a new elementary school plus various upgrades, a new service center AND a million dollar bus barn. There is a charter school in the district. I know that there is some money drained into that. So, in this world of education finance, where does a small, rural school go from here? How can we get out school back?

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