Report confirms Indiana's voucher program costs taxpayers and doesn't serve neediest students
A new report from the Indiana Department of Education confirms Indiana’s private school voucher program has become the largest in the nation with nearly 33,000 vouchers issued in the 2015 – 16 school year. The program now costs taxpayers a record $135 million and a loss of $40 million. These facts are contrary to the talking points from advocates of private school vouchers who claim vouchers save the state money.
Upon reading the voucher report, ISTA President Teresa Meredith believes the state has misguided its priorities for ensuring every kid has access to a quality education.
“Vouchers are a drain on taxpayers,” said Meredith. “With 90 percent of Indiana’s kids in public schools, it’s time our state start supporting our neighborhood public schools. We know public schools work for every student when they have the support they need.”
A majority of the vouchers benefit students who were likely planning to attend a private school anyway, with 53 percent of voucher students never attending an Indiana public school. This dramatic change has made the school voucher program an unfunded government entitlement program.
With only 2 percent of vouchers going to students living in an F school district, families are not using the costly program to leave failing public schools, as voucher supporters claim, but to fund private education.
The report also reveals that the voucher program has drastically changed from its original intent as a program an option for low-income students to leave Indiana’s public schools.
Currently, a family of four in Indiana earning $89,725 per year can qualify for a taxpayer-financed voucher. Considering Indiana’s median is $48,737, it is evident the voucher program was never focused on helping families of limited means.
According to the report, Indiana’s voucher program is not empowering minorities to gain more control over their kids’ education. White students are taking more than 60 percent of the vouchers. Vouchers issued to minority students is down 15 percent from the program’s first year.
While wealthier, white students are big winners from Indiana’s costly voucher program, Indiana’s religious schools are as well. Indiana’s voucher program subsidizes religious school operations. Religion-based schools are receiving more than 99 percent of the vouchers issued.
It’s time Indiana policymakers refocus their attention on public schools who educate the majority of Indiana’s kids.