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In Indiana: Pass Go and Collect Your Voucher

Will the arrival of school choice in the Hoosier State shatter the government's education monopoly?

by
Paul Cooper

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September 15, 2011 - 12:00 am

However, another Christian teacher in the same school district has a very different take on the religion issues in regards to constitutionality. James Kendall said, “From my understanding…the current court precedent is that it does not violate church-state issues. My personal view is that the parent is the primary educator of the child. The vast majority of parents choose to send their kids to public education. But the parents have the prerogative to teach their kids through home school, charter school, or religious-based school. The voucher program is the government stepping in to assist parents in being the primary educator of their children.”

Scott Gant, a teacher who taught in both public schools and at a Christian private school in Indiana, spoke out in even stronger terms against those raising the religion issue: “Separation of church and state is not a phrasing in the Constitution. It’s a highly charged, politicized phrase that is a red herring. As long as they are being taught what the state requires to be taught, and parents are choosing their school, then the government isn’t forcing religion.”

One of the reasons Catholic institutions have become so popular for the voucher program is that they have a much higher percentage of schools officially accredited. Also, most secular and Protestant private schools aren’t as established as their Catholic counterparts. However, as more parents learn about these vouchers, you might see more students trying some of the non-Catholic private school choices.

While the exodus from public to private schools is mostly felt in urban areas, even some smaller school districts have seen an increase in Catholic school numbers.  So far the numbers leaving public schools is such a small percentage compared to the whole that some school districts aren’t even noticing it.  Yet to small Catholic and other private schools, an increase in 10-30 students is huge and can mean new teachers being hired. Kendall said,

No one that I know of (in Vigo County) public schools has mentioned numbers down because of the voucher program.  But I have heard Catholic schools in the area are growing from the new voucher program.

Sara Guth, principle of St. Bernard School in Rockport, has said the voucher program was an answer to prayers and that the school has been inundated with calls from parents ever since the voucher program passed.  The principal of Bethany Christian School in Goshen said they have 26 new students and have hired a new part time teacher.  Holy Family in South Bend, according to their principal, has 25 new students and hired two new teachers.

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