Gov. Mitch Daniels is putting education reform at the forefront of his agenda in Indiana. Daniels has advocated “tying teacher compensation to student achievement” with the extra bonus of offering students a scholarship if they finish high school a year early, like the Q comp programme in Minnesota. Daniel’s proposal to allow state funding to help parents pay for their children’s private education is the most controversial part of the reform. Educators in the public sector have long rejected this as the ultimate “real school choice proposal.”
Vouchers for low-income students allow them to have access to “options that only the wealthy now have.” If you can’t afford private school tuition, state vouchers can be a lifeline for working parents. State vouchers, in addition to opening doors for students who may not have had the opportunity before, will also benefit public schools and pupils by creating “competition.” Schools that are at risk of losing pupils if they don’t improve will likely improve as a result of the increased competition.
However, there are many who oppose the use of vouchers. This scheme may “end up syphoning off the top pupils,” leaving the rest behind, according to some critics of the plan. Families who are most dedicated to their children’s education will also abandon the school and the other pupils who benefited from vouchers. This is a valid point, and it is likely to play a significant role in the passage of this law.
Some fear that the state’s voucher programme may cross a controversial line between the state and the church. The proposed mandate has previously been upheld as lawful by the United States Supreme Court. The planned vouchers will only be “accommodating religion, not furthering a specific one” if the state recognises all private schools equally, regardless of religious affiliation.
This system would need to be closely monitored if it were ever put into place on a large scale. The design of the plan, the limits and the cost will all factor into whether or not the legislation will pass. There will be a fierce debate between detractors and supporters. However, more radical legislation like this may be required if rigorously monitored if public education is ever going to improve in light of recent statistics that place American children just in the middle of the education race.