NEWS: Indiana gets 125 School Applications For Voucher Program

From the Associated Press:

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Indiana’s new private school voucher plan has attracted applications from more than 125 schools seeking to take part in the nation’s broadest such program, and most of the schools approved to date appear to have religious missions.

State Department of Education spokesman Alex Damron told the Herald-Times that while most of the 80 schools approved so far are religious in nature, the goal of the state’s new law is to give students a quality education.

“We were looking for quality schools willing to be subject to accountability measures,” Damron said. “Those are the types of schools we expected to apply to the program.”

He noted that the law requires participating schools to be accredited, administer ISTEP and End of Course Assessments and receive letter grades from the state alongside public and charter schools.

Earlier this month, teachers, administrators and clergy sued in federal court, seeking to block the law on grounds that most of the 352 private schools whose students are eligible for the vouchers are affiliated with churches or other religious institutions.

Their lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction said the Indiana Constitution directs the General Assembly to educate children through a “general and uniform system of Common Schools.”

Voucher supporters are getting excited that the program is in place and moving forward, said Lindsey Brown, the executive director of nonprofit School Choice Indiana, which advocates for expanded educational opportunities for Hoosier families.

“We’re tremendously excited that this provides opportunities to families who might not otherwise have them,” Brown said. “The ZIP code you live in shouldn’t determine the quality of education you’re getting.”

St. Vincent de Paul School in Bedford is one of the schools that has been approved to take part in the voucher program. Principal Rebecca Floyd said her school chose to participate because it wanted to open its doors to all.

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