Indiana Judge Upholds School Choice Program, Unions Cry Foul

The battles between advocates for school choice and the reactionary groups who oppose their efforts continue as an Indiana judge has rejected pleas from the Indiana State Teachers Association to shut down a program that lets families use taxpayer funding to attend the private schools of their choice.

In the Evansville Courier & Press, Eric Bradner reports that this is only the start, as Judge Michael Keele’s ruling is the beginning of what will become a prolonged legal battle between proponents of school choice and the teachers’ union.

The program allows families who qualify for free or reduced lunch to take 90% of the funding allotted to them in a traditional public school and apply those funds to private school tuition in an effort to expand high-quality educational options for underserved students and families.

Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett – who said he was “confident that this would be the decision” – is prepared to continue pushing the program that he says is both constitutional and an important education reform for Indiana and its families.

The unions disagree.

Bradner writes that Mark Shoup, the ISTA’s spokesman, says the ISTA is “highly disappointed with the judge’s ruling” and contends that the program violates Indiana’s constitutional mandate to uniformity among Indiana’s schools.

The American Federation for Children, an advocate for school choice programs, says that over 2,800 students have signed up for the program. The AFC celebrates the decision, calling Indiana’s program, “one of the strongest debuts for a voucher program benefiting low-income kids in our nation’s history.”

At redefinED, Adam Emerson points out that not all states are experiencing the same success as Indiana. Emerson writes that essentially the same law in Colorado’s Douglas County has just been struck down after being challenged as unconstitutional.

Matthew Tabor

Matthew Tabor

Matthew is a prolific, independent voice in the national education debate. He is a tireless advocate for high academic standards from pre-K through graduate school, fiscal sense and personal responsibility. He values parents’ and families’ rights and believes in accountability for teachers, administrators, politicians and all taxpayer-funded education entities. With a unique background that includes work in higher education, executive recruiting, professional sport and government, Matthew has consulted on new media and communication strategies for a broad range of clients. He writes the blog “Education for the Aughts” at www.matthewktabor.com , has contributed to National Journal’s ‘Expert’ blog for Education , and interacts with the education community on Twitter and Google+.