Indiana’s Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the state’s voucher program, giving a serious boost to education reform. The program had come under attack for diverting public money to religious education, but the court rejected this argument in a unanimous decision. The WSJ reports:
The judges, upholding an earlier trial-court decision, ruled that as long as the state maintains a public-education system, using Indiana tax dollars to help fund the private-school educations of low- and middle-income children doesn’t violate the state Constitution.Indiana spent $38 million this school year on vouchers for more than 9,300 students. Next school year, the law calls for lifting a cap on the number of eligible students. The Friedman Foundation estimates about 540,000 students, or 54% of Indiana public-school students will then be eligible for vouchers. Indiana has “the broadest program without a doubt,” Mr. Enlow said.
Along with charter schools, voucher programs that empower parents are among the more promising ideas for primary education reform. But critics make a solid point that there needs to be some form of quality control for schools that receive voucher funds. This should not come in the form of a huge, crushing bureaucracy, and the emphasis should always be on helping students and schools succeed. But for these programs to fulfill their potential and for students to get the best possible chance in life, there needs to be some accountability.Still, congratulations to Indiana on an important step forward.