- George Zimmerman will not be charged in domestic dispute
- Russian officials press bilateral U.S. trade deal
- Selfies at Funerals blog creator retires after Obama flub: ‘Our work here is done’
- New Obama adviser Podesta is against Keystone but will steer clear of pipeline deliberations
- 40 Australian adults, children found in ‘one of the worst accounts of incest ever made public’
- Venezuela’s Maduro calls on student ‘price vigilantes’ to hit the streets, report businesses
- Atheists smug as Hindus join Satanists to demand display at Oklahoma Statehouse
- Bow before Valkyrie, NASA’s ‘superhero robot’ entry in DARPA challenge
- 10-year-old Pennsylvania boy suspended for pretend bow-and-arrow shooting
- Tea partyers turn on Capitol Hill budget deal
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 2013 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.
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- High court likely to allow Obama's clean-air rules
- Funding boost of $100M for mentally ill a 'small step'
- White House PR blitz hits states that rejected Medicaid expansion
- Obama tries to calm Israeli fears over Iranian nuke deal 'not based on trust'
Latest Blog Entries
By Matt Kibbe
- Rand Paul: Budget deal 'shameful,' 'huge mistake'
- Teen thugs in D.C. run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- KIBBE: Another Republican budget surrender
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- Study IDs reasons for late-term abortions
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- American bourbon now better than Scottish whisky: U.K.-born expert
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Interviews and show reviews from the Los Angeles punk scene past and present. Los Angeles has always been rich in punk rock talent since punk rock was born.
Buzz on Bees is a column promoting the love and life of God’s greatest pollinators on earth: The Honeybee
Brazen, leading-edge, “call it like it is” columns and reporting from Ohio native, radio host and writer, Sara Marie Brenner.
A libertarian look at breaking news and political trends by author Tom Mullen.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow