EDITORIAL: Court Ruling Will Ultimately Decide Impact of Indiana Vouchers
From the Evansville Courier & Press:
If the boycott by Indiana House Democrats last winter was intended to squelch the Republicans’ initiative to make tax-supported vouchers available to low and moderate-income Hoosier families for tuition at private and religious schools, they shouldn’t have bothered.
The voucher program was one of a number of issues House Democrats cited as an excuse for running off to Urbana, Ill., for five weeks on strike. Subsequently, as a concession to Democrats, Republicans did agree to reduce the cap for first-year school vouchers from 10,000 down to 7,500.
According to Eric Bradner of the Courier & Press Indianapolis bureau, House Democratic leader Rep. Pat Bauer claimed that as a result of that reduction, Democrats had softened the blow that the voucher program would have on Indiana public schools.
But now, as it turns out, the 7,500-voucher cap wasn’t needed, and obviously, wasn’t a factor in determining how many parents would take advantage of vouchers this fall. Statewide, parents have requested only 2,800 vouchers, 94 of them in Evansville.
The numbers will perhaps be more significant next year after parents, children and schools have had some experience with the program, and after the legal issues have played out in court. If vouchers survive a legal challenge, the cap would go to 15,000 next school year. Democrats got that one lowered from 20,000 during their standoff. And if the vouchers reach the third year, there would be no cap.
Voucher supporters, among them Gov. Mitch Daniels and state school chief Tony Bennett, won the first round in court on Monday when Marion County Superior Court Judge Michael Keele refused to grant the Indiana State Teachers Association a temporary injunction to block the voucher program. However, this was likely a mere first step in what is expected to be a prolonged legal battle over the constitutionality of voucher program.