When I read the June 2d issue of the Indiana Business Journal, I fumed.

An editorial by current Lt. Governor and  2024 gubernatorial candidate Suzanne Crouch was titled “Why I support Universal School Choice for Hoosier Families.” Of course, “school choice” sounds way nicer than “Why I support destroying Indiana’s public schools,” or “Why I support school vouchers despite overwhelming evidence that they don’t deliver educational benefits, are socially divisive, and are a huge taxpayer subsidy to religious institutions.”

If you doubt the accuracy of that last statement, the IBJ helpfully included lists of Indiana’s largest private primary and secondary schools. Only four of the 25 primary schools listed were not religious–Park Tudor, Orchard, Sycamore and the International School.  Park Tudor–a very expensive private school ($25,930 a year!)– doesn’t accept vouchers. Sycamore limits enrollment to gifted and talented children, and the International School also appeals to a specialized constituency.

All of the other schools on a list headed by the Oaks Academy and Heritage Christian School are either Catholic, or conservative or fundamentalist Christian.

When it comes to the 19 secondary schools, only three–Park Tudor, University High School and the International School–are secular.

I have posted numerous times about the myriad ways in which advocates of “privatization” and “choice” in education have contributed to the hollowing out of America’s civic structure. (If you type “vouchers” into the search bar at the top right of this blog,  you”ll get more data than you probably want to absorb…)

I’ve linked to studies showing that fundamentalist Christian schools are teaching creationism rather than science, and whitewashing history. Science denial and bogus history are unlikely to prepare students for life in contemporary American society.

I’ve linked to various lawsuits challenging religious discrimination practiced by religious “academies.” Significant numbers of those schools refuse to enroll gay children, or children of gay parents.

I have pointed out that vouchers shortchange rural residents and those in small towns, where there aren’t enough students to support alternative, private schools, and Indiana’s voucher program deprives their public schools of desperately needed funds.

I have echoed knowledgable others, like Doug Masson, who points out that pious rhetoric about giving options to poor minority children “trapped” in those terrible public schools is nothing more than a scam.

Back in 2019, Indiana’s voucher program cost taxpayers $161.4 million; by 2025 it will cost  $600 million. And forget “poor children.” Indiana’s voucher program disproportionately serves upper-middle-class white children, a majority of whom are clearly not “escaping failing schools” because–despite lawmakers’ original promises– they never attended public school.

As Doug Masson wrote about that 2019 report:

This reinforces my view that the real intention of voucher supporters was and is: 1) hurt teacher’s unions; 2) subsidize religious education; and 3) redirect public education money to friends and well-wishers of voucher supporters. Also, a reminder: vouchers do not improve educational outcomes. I get so worked up about this because the traditional public school is an important part of what ties a community together — part of what turns a collection of individuals into a community. And community feels a little tough to come by these days. We shouldn’t be actively eroding it.

No kidding!

“Choice” sounds great. Providing citizens with a wide freedom of choice–of religion, politics, lifestyle– is a quintessentially American goal. But voucher programs are evidence that institutionalized choices can also promote division and undermine civic cohesion.

In far too many communities today, the “educational choice” being offered is the opportunity to shield one’s children from intellectual and cultural diversity. Vouchers provide parents with tax dollars that allow them to insulate their children from  one of the very few remaining “street corners” left in contemporary American society. Whatever their original intent, vouchers today are mechanisms allowing parents to remove their children from public school classrooms and classmates that may be conveying information incompatible with those parents’ beliefs and prejudices.

That an otherwise credible candidate for Indiana Governor wants to make support for increased tribalism “universal” is appalling. At best, it tells me that Crouch is totally unfamiliar with the educational and social science research; at worst, it’s a sign that she is competing for the Christian Nationalist vote that is so large a component of today’s GOP.

It goes without saying that if Mike Braun emerges as the Republican nominee for Governor, he will double down on Crouch’s position.

Speaking of “choice”– Hoosiers have one next year.

One of the many reasons I have been so impressed with Jennifer McCormick, the Democrat running for Governor, is that–after trying to protect Indiana’s public schools as a Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction– she left a political party intent upon destroying public education.

Every schoolteacher in Indiana–and every citizen who understands the importance of America’s public schools–should choose to vote McCormick.


  1. Lawsuits lawsuits lawsuits,

    Force their hand!

    It will probably go to the SCOTUS, then see if they change the Constitution! Then what to do? Taxpayer revolt! Pols won’t stand up, so secular society will have to. Then there will be real movement in politics. Equality must be the main point in education, politics, healthcare, earned wages, access to unfettered representation, including equality under civil and human rights.

    Secular society should not be slanted twords any particular religious dogma.

  2. “Choice” sounds great. Providing citizens with a wide freedom of choice–of religion, politics, lifestyle– is a quintessentially American goal.”

    We have been fortunate to have the freedom and the right to “Choices” regarding religion and politics but lifestyle and education has always been limited by economics…until the voucher system sidestepped the State and Constitution of the United States of America to provide private education assistance (a government handout) originally to those who couldn’t afford private (religious) schools. This was easily accomplished by Legislators lying to the public who are unaware of or do not understand State and U.S. Constitutional language regarding our “Choices” or our rights. Lifestyle and living conditions remain controlled by economics with social services dwindling due to lack of tax dollars which would better serve the country remaining in the public education budgets to increase the possibility of bettering their economic situations. The vast majority of the generations of now sitting lawmakers at all levels began in public education. The “Choices” available to them included increasing their economic situations to afford higher education which is now bankrupting younger generations of former students who found no employment in their major education areas but must be paid for. A rising limitation in employment is the push for Artificial Intelligence which is now being found to be Information that is Artificial. As Alan Watts stated decades ago, “Man is going to computerize himself out of existence.” Will it be those voucher students providing the input for AI? It is the same “garbage in/garbage out” system we have been using with a new futuristic title to impress the impressible voters.

  3. The “American Taliban”, aka MAGA, would set up its own madras system if they maintain power in Indiana.

  4. In my book, “Saving the Seed Corn…” ( &, I’ve chronicled the demise of public education by Republicans bent of eliminating it one way or another. Since the egregious Ronald Reagan administration, that has been one of the GOP’s top 5 goals.

    It is truly Orwellian that these ideologues are so determined to make a dumb class so they can be more easily controlled. Nowhere in human history – outside of overt slavery – has this ever been successful for communities. Yet our “modern” capitalists insist that they make money off of educating children even when it’s the non-believing taxpayer who is required to contribute to the elitist wealth machine.

    By destroying public education, the Republican party will achieve what politics alone could not: create the tyranny of the minority in a purely fascist setting. Take note of the idiotic “anti-woke” movements that is encouraging a very few screeching fools to determine what books can be in public school libraries, for example.

    Hitler burned books to promote his brand of fascism. Just a few Republicans in public office are “banning” them. Isn’t it interesting that the banning of Amanda Gorman’s book has vaulted it into being a best seller? Gosh, I wish Florida would ban all my books too.

  5. Two thoughts on this subject of vouchers.
    1. One of the “unintended” consequences of the voucher system is the reintroduction of racial segregation into the education system of Indianapolis. I only have to drive by the two primary schools in my neighborhood to see this; the Catholic school playground where mostly white students are at recess and then the public primary school where primarily black children play. One white Catholic parent once told me that her parish school was indeed integrated. “We have ONE black kid in our school.”
    2. Before vouchers, before charter schools, there was the case of the Public School at 49th and Boulevard Place. Eli Lilly & Co. wanted a “special” school for the children of their foreign employees. That economic giant somehow got the Indianapolis School Administration to offer up that school to them. The children in the Butler Tarkington neighborhood could not attend and so were forced to travel to other neighborhoods for their education. When Lilly wanted something even better they dumped out and built a fine new grade school…and high school for their little darlings.
    Once the door was open to mess with the public school system, and the greedy among us saw a way to make money off of such destruction, we were off to the races.

  6. McCormick definitely has my vote, and hopefully enough votes to win. I’m not sure, though, how much she’ll be able to accomplish unless we can vote out the GOP super majority in the so-called legislature.

  7. All of the above! Also, give Jennifer the surrounding group of legislators she needs to accomplish her policies. Can we vote out hate?

    I believe the truth is widespread and ready to smash the small number of voters promoting hate and intolerance.

    Go RFK, Jr.!

  8. If the majority elect to Indys government is complaicent in this move, then its obvious they together made this agreement without the peoples/citizens knowlege of lack of. the legislature concieved this thru their own accord,knowing well where it will lead. its seems the white breed of knowlege must remain supreme throughout the land. Indy seems to be another tile in the mozaic of authortarianism in education. red states want to indoctrinate any way they can,especially in profits first (taught)and so called christian values(exploited theology). using a religious slant to condem the public sector as non functioning and must be killed. such values only tell you they demand a young mind must be taught over what life has to offer on the outside.(robotic minds) but then again,the whole scene in America is, change for the rights side to be mantled in a governement that sees only hate,and profit to a few. ive yet to hear any plan that, if given a chance,( thats a authoritarian scheme to vote out any so called entitlements) what would replace such items? seems wall street wants control of every cent and every aspect of a every life. then when they ,wall,street again,causes disaster like 2008, they get a free reboot and just take more and leave the ones who do the work kicked to curb,again..wheres the plan to end the madness?

  9. There are trillions of dollars locked away in private families and accounts in our economy. if this money was allowed to be in the economy,earned rather than horded, it would make main street a far better place to be. of the IRS exposes the slam dunk of wall street esq. policy to the american people,then it would throw some gas on the fire of who has what,and why and how? this hord has given the rich a new game of private sector con games and loan sharking,aka, private equity. control of this money is paramount,all of it by those who demand(diamon) such control and have now paid for a whole politcal party to kiss its ass. we should have a first rate education at any cost, if that money was in the actual economy of our country. education is the back bone of Americas place. unfortunately,the rich has,and will, demand(diamon)we submit to their way of thinking. its called greerymandered slavery/economic slavery to them alone…tax the horde, we dont need billionairs demanding we live like second rate citizens for their needs.

  10. You are not alone! Florida just passed universal choice. Meanwhile the local public school system is limiting choice for local schools, because they can’t afford to bus every kid everywhere. Imagine what they could do if the millions of dollars going to private schools were back in their budget.

  11. Will the fascists destroy America or will Americans destroy fascism? If I had to bet, I’d put my money on America. Since I don’t have to bet, I’ll donate more $ to the ACLU and keep voting blue.

  12. Let’s wax philosophical. Peculiar, isn’t it, that the current brand of the remnants of the Republican Party feel the gummint should stay out of most everything except funding private and religious enterprises – or is it? Capitalism has all sort of covers for its continuing takeover of our institutions, from the school room to the bed room – wherever a buck can be made, whatever the pretext.

    There is another problem, i.e., if we now have publicly financed private and religious schools teaching civics and history, describe the polity to me ten years from now. Results in the long game can be more fearsome than those of today, I fear, when we are involved in cultural games rather than governing and “citizenship” is a quaint reminder of yesteryear.

  13. I put charter schools in a different category than a voucher system. Charter schools are public schools but allow parents to match their child’s learning style to a school.

    Parents have always had “school choice” to some degree, but in the past, it invariably involved a moving van. When they moved, it was a loss for the neighborhood and the public schools. What’s more, one of the large drivers of housing costs is the competition for housing feeding into “good schools”.

    Since parents can send their children to any charter school (limited by space), charter schools make it possible to change the equation where “poor neighborhoods = poor schools” or “zip code determines destiny”.

    There are reasonable arguments that charter schools, in general, are evading the requirements to educate special needs students. I also believe that the legislature sees undermining teachers’ unions as a “bonus” with charter schools. I don’t support vouchers, but I believe that breaking the link between a student’s home address and their school is vitally important.

  14. Words cannot adequately express how much I fucking HATE having my tax dollars used to pay for bullshit religious schools in Indiana. My wife and I do not have any children and we are happy to have our taxes pay for quality PUBLIC school education. However these theocratic, fascist, phony Christain assholes in Indiana can go f*** themselves. Just one more reason why we are moving to Costa Rica before the 2024 elections, this city state and country are forever fcked!

  15. “In far too many communities today, the “educational choice” being offered is the opportunity to shield one’s children from intellectual and cultural diversity,” for the sake of growing an increasingly ignorant, easily led, population.
    I would characterize the people who champion this program as greedy bastards, period!

  16. Schools that accept voucher monies should be required to assure students their American rights. Those schools are in US and students need to know about Democracy and the responsibilities and freedoms inherent. Too much authoritarianism can have disastrous effects on kids, they don’t know there are other ways for them to work out their lives in positive ways.
    Oversight is warranted.

  17. Neither charters nor voucher schools serve children trapped in a public school zip code. For over a decade, Indiana has had public school open enrollment state-wide without the cost of transfer tuition. Parents can transfer their children from one public school to another across school district lines without cost.

    Charters and voucher schools both discriminate against any student they don’t wish to serve which are primarily those more expensive to educate – those with low test scores, those who don’t speak English well or at all, those who require counseling and special services, those who parents are not available to volunteer or contribute financially to school projects, those who can’t provide their own transportation, and the catch-all – the school says “I’m sorry, we don’t have a program to serve the needs of your child”.

    The catch-all excuse comes – conveniently for the school – after the pupil count day on which funds for all schools are based. The school keeps the state tuition funds for the rest of the semester after encouraging parents to take their child to a school which can serve their child’s needs.

  18. Nancy Papas – can you tell us where we can find data regarding private and charter schools enrolling children only to get state funds before the pupil count and then encourage parents to take their children elsewhere while keeping the money? That seems like intentional criminal theft of educational funds.

  19. I will just repeat my argument from personal experience.

    When the Detroit public schools decided to open a “magnet” school [by invitation only], the “non-special” schools suffered. The head of the math department in my high school REFUSED TO TEACH. He ignored the last several chapters of our “senior math” course, intended for college bound seniors.

    For the record, I was invited to the magnet school upon entering the 9th grade and again upon entering the 10th grade. I just preferred to go to my local school — which had a jazz band. I didn’t expect that I had traded for a second class math education.

    If you set aside Charter schools as the ones for concerned. parents to send their children, the non-Charter schools get treated like their students are the dregs of society. Those schools could probably benefit from extra funding, not less.

  20. The Oaks Academy is not Catholic, conservative, or “fundamentalist Christian.” You can make your point without the embellishments.

  21. Nancy Papas’ post that makes completely false and uninformed claims about public charter schools is disappointing, especially coming from someone who should know better.

  22. The Oaks describes itself as classical and “Christ-centered”–which most people would consider conservative Christian. A friend whose grandchildren attend agrees with that categorization. Granted, it is not fundamentalist.

  23. Sheila: My kids attend The Oaks. I can assure you there is no conservative political bias. The political diversity of Oaks’ families runs the gamut. Just because students learn about Ancient Greece and take Latin does not make a school politically conservative.

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