EDITORIAL: We can't vouch for this expansion plan

2013-01-16T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: We can't vouch for this expansion plan nwitimes.com
January 16, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Legislation to expand eligibility for school vouchers in Indiana needs to be scrapped, at least for now.

Those vouchers allow many Hoosier families who otherwise can't afford a private school to have that school choice option.

Senate Bill 184, sponsored by state Rep. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, would allow siblings of students already benefiting from vouchers to go straight to private school without first attending public school for at least a year.

Yoder called his plan "family friendly" because low-income parents wouldn't have to drive their students to multiple schools twice a day.

Those parents already have an option that would obviate that need — put the younger child on the school bus.

More to the point, this would violate the tacit agreement by the Indiana General Assembly that public school should be the first choice, without vouchers available for students whose needs don't seem to be met by traditional public schools.

"We passed the original voucher bill under the idea that public school is the first choice," said state Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said. "We're breaking down that system for the convenience of a family?"

Yoder said yes. 

Kenley is chairman of the Appropriations Committee, which would have to consider the bill because it involves spending state money, so he is likely to have the last word on this legislation.

Rather than expand the program to include siblings of students already in private schools, keep the guidelines intact for now and require those siblings to at least try a year of public school before qualifying for a voucher. Public school should remain the first choice.

There's another principle involved here as well.

Indiana has passed aggressive education reforms in recent years. It's time for a breather while we see what effects those reforms will have.

Rather than expand or contract the scope of those reforms, let's maintain the new status quo for now.

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