- Marco Rubio: U.S. at social, moral crossroads
- ‘We’re coming for you, Barack Obama’: Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL
- White flags baffle NYPD: ‘We’re lucky it wasn’t a bomb’
- N.Y. Gov. Cuomo’s office interfered with, pressured corruption commission: report
- Brit lawmaker: I would fire on Israel if I lived in Gaza
- VA apologizes to forgotten Marine veteran locked in Fla. clinic, forced to call 911
- U.S. social and economic trends on worrisome track, survey finds
- McDonald nomination unanimously referred to full Senate
- Chuck Norris honorary chairman of NRA voter registration campaign
- GOP outraged Obamacare investigators able to get coverage with fake IDs
Court upholds Indiana’s groundbreaking vouchers program
Question of the Day
In a major victory for the school-choice movement, Indiana’s highest court on Tuesday unanimously upheld a sweeping, ambitious school voucher program put in place in 2011 by then-Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican.
Opponents of the program, which offers families up to $4,500 to send their children to schools outside the public system, argued that it unfairly funneled taxpayer money to religious institutions.
But in a 5-0 decision, the Indiana Supreme Court said that any government assistance to parochial schools is incidental, and that families and children are the true beneficiaries.
“The parents of an eligible student are thus free to select any program-
eligible school or none at all. The voucher program does not alter the makeup or availability of Indiana public or charter schools,” the justices wrote in their opinion.
They added that churches and other religious institutions receive other indirect government help in the form of fire and police protection and municipal water service. The vouchers, the justices said, do not directly benefit religious schools and are therefore constitutional.
Voucher critics, including the Indiana State Teachers Association, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, still believe the program is a poor use of state funds and one that diverts dollars from cash-strapped public districts.
“Just because the Indiana Supreme Court said it’s OK by our constitution doesn’t mean this is a good idea,” Teresa Meredith, vice president of the teachers association, told Reuters. “I don’t believe it’s a wise use of public money. It’s still, at the end of the day, funding religious instruction” with taxpayers’ money.
The Indiana decision marks the end of another battle in the ongoing national debate over vouchers.
In Louisiana, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal has taken his school- choice program to the Supreme Court after it was declared unconstitutional by a lower court judge last year. Legal battles over vouchers also are unfolding in Colorado and other states.
Across the nation, tens of thousands of students take advantage of the programs, often aimed at low-income families or those that live in failing school districts.
But what sets Indiana’s program apart from others is its scope. It’s not limited to just poor families or those with children in subpar public schools.
Under the system, one of the biggest political victories for Mr. Daniels during his eight years as governor, middle-class families are eligible to apply for vouchers. It’s also offered statewide, even if a family lives in an area with a quality public school.
Following Tuesday’s decision, current Republican Gov. Mike Pence is expected to push to expand the program.
“I have long believed that parents should be able to choose where their children go to school, regardless of their income,” he said in a statement. “Now that the Indiana Supreme Court has unanimously upheld this important program, we must continue to find ways to expand educational opportunities for all Indiana families.”
While there’s movement at the state level, attempts by Republicans to pass national voucher legislation have failed, and the Obama administration remains deeply opposed to the idea. Most recently, Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Rand Paul of Kentucky put forth an amendment to the Senate budget bill that would have freed up some federal money for vouchers.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ben Wolfgang covers the White House for The Washington Times.
Before joining the Times in March 2011, Ben spent four years as a political reporter at the Republican-Herald in Pottsville, Pa.
He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Obama says public not familiar enough with issues
- White House: More changes to contraception mandate coming
- Boehner presses Obama on 2008 law contributing to border crisis
- Obama, Biden overhaul job training programs
- Obama takes executive action on LGBT discrimination, but leaves religious loophole
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
The subsidies are a hit with patients who don't exist
- Democratic Sen. John Walsh plagiarized War College master's thesis: report
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- House task force to recommend National Guard on border, faster deportations
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Hezbollah warring in Syria could join fight against Israel
- Netanyahu's Wikipedia page replaced with giant Palestinian flag
- Hamas orders civilians to die in Israeli airstrikes
- Pro-Russia rebel commander suggests passengers died days before Malaysian flight
- TYRRELL: The birth of a new alignment in the Middle East
- Despite rhetoric, gun prosecutions plummet under Obama
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq