EDITORIAL: Court should vouch for school vouchers law

2012-11-23T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Court should vouch for school vouchers law nwitimes.com
November 23, 2012 12:00 am  • 

The Indiana Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday on the Meredith v. Daniels lawsuit challenging Indiana's school vouchers law. The court should uphold the law.

The challenge against the law contends that school vouchers cause public money to be used to support religious institutions, which is contrary to the Indiana Constitution. It's an easy argument to see, but a difficult one to make.

The Indiana law establishing school vouchers is a national model, making this lawsuit a key case.

That law requires students to first attend public school for a year before being allowed to use a school voucher. That gives parents a chance to see whether the public school system works for their child.

The voucher helps make private school an option for parents who otherwise couldn't afford the tuition. But private school is expensive, so other financial aid or tuition payments might be necessary to cover the cost of education.

Incoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz dropped her name as a plaintiff in this lawsuit, because as a state official she is required to uphold state laws. Good move.

The challenge to this law says a lot about the lens through which the plaintiffs view education funding.

The school voucher program is all about funding education for students, regardless of where the students attend school. The purpose of school funding is not to support schools, but to pay for each child's education. The schools are tools toward that end.

Enacting the program was a victory for parents who want to choose the best option for their child. In most cases, that's a traditional public school. For some, though, a charter school or a private school might be the best answer. Where a private school is the best choice, the state should still fulfill its responsibility to educate children by helping to pay for the tuition.

As the Indiana Supreme Court weighs the challenge to school voucher law, and as Hoosiers debate its merits, focus on what's best for the child, not for the public or private schools.

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