NEWS: In Indiana, Local Parents Benefit from Vouchers

From the Northwest Indiana Times:

Sylvia Thomas, of Gary, said her daughter NyCole became stressed out and physically ill last year as a freshman at Gary’s Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy. NyCole’s supposedly advanced classes had many students not at the same level, Thomas said.

She also said there was not enough student discipline and a perception of too much negativity.

Then Thomas heard about Indiana’s recently enacted voucher program.

After researching the program on the Internet and contacting the Indiana Department of Education, she learned Bishop Noll Institute in Hammond had been approved for the School Choice Program. Thomas completed the paperwork and enrolled her daughter, taking advantage of a $7,900 scholarship. This fall, Nycole, 15, will be a sophomore at Bishop Noll, proudly wearing the navy and gold.

“She got the full scholarship,” Thomas said. “It’s beautiful. I don’t have to pay anything.”

Indiana’s new voucher program, which is authorized under Indiana Code 20-51-1 and 20-51-4, allows Hoosier families to send their children to a school of their choice. A voucher, or so-called Choice Scholarship, is a state payment that qualifying families can use to offset tuition costs at participating schools. Students qualify based on total household income, and the amount of the scholarship corresponds with the public school corporation in which the student lives.

As of Monday, the Indiana Department of Education said 2,230 students across Indiana are taking advantage of the Choice Scholarship Program.

A strong proponent of school choice, state education leader Tony Bennett said the measure gives students and parents a choice.

“Every child, regardless of ZIP code or amount of money in the family bank account, deserves access to a high-quality school that drives academic growth and inspires excellence,” he said.

Bennett has made a commercial with Jamal Smith, executive director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, promoting the program. Commission spokesman Brad Meadows said they found it important to work with the department because the voucher program will allow low- and moderate-income families to take their children to a school outside their district, providing them with equal-educational opportunities.

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