Exodus: vouchers prompt thousands to move to Catholic schools in Indiana

Exodus: vouchers prompt thousands to move to Catholic schools in Indiana August 29, 2011

The news being reported this morning is pretty remarkable:

Weeks after Indiana began the nation’s broadest school voucher program, thousands of students have transferred from public to private schools, causing a spike in enrollment at some Catholic institutions that were recently on the brink of closing.

It is a scenario public school advocates have long feared: Students fleeing local districts in large numbers, taking with them vital tax dollars that often end up at parochial schools. Opponents say the practice violates the separation of church and state.

In at least one district, public school principals have been pleading with parents not to move their children.

“The bottom line from our perspective is, when you cut through all the chaff, nobody can deny that public money is going to be taken from public schools, and they’re going to end up in private, mostly religious schools,’’ said Nate Schnellenberger, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association.

Under a law signed in May by Governor Mitch Daniels, more than 3,200 Indiana students are receiving vouchers to attend private schools. That number is expected to climb significantly in the next two years as awareness of the program increases and limits on the number of applicants are lifted.

Read more.

USA TODAY, meantime, has this look at some people using the program:

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett said the initial voucher numbers simply reflect the fact that the vast majority of Indiana private schools are religious.

Regardless of the initial result, Bennett said, the intent is not to subsidize religious schools.

“We are subsidizing the education of children,” he said, “in the schools where parents want those children to attend.”

That’s the case with Indianapolis mother [Heather] Coffy, who is not Catholic. She said the decision to keep her children in Catholic schools was solely about academics — her son was failing in public school before she moved him and her two other children to private Catholic schools. “I really wanted what was best for him,” she said.

Before Indiana’s voucher program was approved, Coffy said her plan for this school year was to pay only the interest on her mortgage to save enough money to cover tuition.

“I was going to keep my children in private school no matter what,” she said. “Now I can pay my full mortgage this month.”

Religion was a major factor in Sarah Masquelier’s decision to sign up for the voucher program. The Indianapolis woman said she has long wanted a Christian school for her children but could not afford it. Instead, she tried just about everything else in pursuit of a quality education, including a charter school and home-schooling. Vouchers will allow the two oldest of her five children to attend Kingsway Christian School in Avon, an Indianapolis suburb.

“I’ve always been researching options for schools,” she said, “because I never have been very satisfied with the public schools.”

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15 responses to “Exodus: vouchers prompt thousands to move to Catholic schools in Indiana”

  1. Great news. It promotes competition and hopefully will push public schools to do a better job. Hate to be a cynic, but wait for the lawyers and opponents challenging this in court.

  2. I don’t see this as a seperation of church and state issue…the government is not picking one religious school over another. The parents are free to use this foucher for the school they see fit.
    But what I do see is the posibility of church run schools “selling their proverbial souls” for money from the government. While having enough to remain open is a great thing, I have worked for a Catholic institution for 28 years and watch the hoops we have to jump through for Medicare moneys. we are now so dependent on it, that we would close our doors if it was taken away.
    It truely is a double edged sword. and I disagree with vouchers.

    Peace to all

  3. Surely vouchers vastly improve opportunities for families and their children. The parents quoted in the article illustrate that. The response of the teachers union official is emblematic of the skewed perspective of the education monopoly. “Nobody can deny that public money is going to be taken from public schools,” Nate Schnellenberger says. But, Mr. Schnellenberger, shouldn’t the focus be on the student and not on the school? Public money is being spent on better results. Delinking public financing of schools from public management of schools will go a long way to improving the quality of both public- and private-run schools.

  4. oldestof9 makes an interesting point – I, too, tend to think that acceptance of government help or money has caused us lots of trouble and leads to compromise… BUT at the same time, if I were a parent of school-aged children, I would not for any amount of money send my children to public schools, because the atmosphere in them has so deteriorated, not just morally (as in, kids gone wild) and academically (as in, kids coming out with less knowledge than ever and some can’t even read or write a decent sentence!) but also increasingly actively teaching everything we disagree with and allowing no freedom of thought….

    What we need are HORDES of teaching nuns again, so Catholic schools can be run faithfully and efficiently, without charging so much for tuition. Did you know that when they were started, they were free?

  5. Parents here are no longer slaves to the teachers union and the democratic party condemning their kids to poor schools. This should have happened on a national basis long ago to create competition and improve quality for all.

    With government supported loans, students and their parents have long been able to choose which college they wanted their kids to attend be it Catholic or secular.

    The exodus from public schools shows how people are voting in a very serious ballot that involves their own children.

    This of course will be attacked by those who want them to remain slaves.

  6. This is great news except: Private schools should be aware that the day will come when the State dictates what is taught in the schools because government money is involved.

    This is not just my opinion. Look at countries where governments subsidize private schools. Take the UK for example. Sex education has to be taught from the earliest grades. Why? Because it’s the States money so the State can dictate.

    It’s too bad more people don’t realize a Catholic education will cause them to suffer financially! That’s as it should be. The generations before us knew it and look at the results. Our ancestors were part of the biggest building boom our country ever saw! New schools, hospital, orphanages etc. financed by nothing more than their sweat and collective meager earnings. ( And not a single penny of government money! )

    Time will tell whether I’m right or wrong but I have a feeling history will repeat itself and we deserve what we get when we are not willing to sacrifice more of ourselves instead of relying on ” Uncle Sam. “!

    Since when has the government been the answer to all of our problems?

    Maybe that is our problem! We don’t seem to want to do for oursleves anymore when we have the government more than willing to step into the breech and take over what we should be doing ourselves!

    What price are you willing to pay?

    Jim Hamel

  7. Mouse,
    “HORDES of teaching nuns”

    You just sent a shiver down my back the likes of which I haven’t felt since 8th grade…..YIKES!

  8. On a more serious note…

    Jim Hamel is Spot On.
    Everything he is predicting will come true…WILL COME TRUE. Anything you can think of that you don’t want taught to your children WILL BE MANDATED(gay marriage/rights)
    There’s even a chance they willmandate which religion to teach…and it might NOT be Christianity

  9. If NJ adopts a voucher system, I would actually consider not homeschooling them and putting them in Catholic school.
    My taxes, my money, my children and I should have the freedom to school them where I see fit.

  10. I wish vouchers were available when I sent my kids to Catholic School for 12 years…or when me and my siblings attended for 12 years…or my in laws (all of them) for 12-16 (Gonzaga and Notre Dame) years, or my parents…or my grand parents…we’ve paid property taxes since its inception and none of my family members, my in law’s family members, my siblings or their in laws, and my grandparents (on both sides) have ever had a tax break for Catholic Schools. It’s OK- we wanted our children to have Catholic education! And I want my grand children and more to have Catholic education! If vouchers are accepted- yay. If not, oh well. We will still pay for Catholic education now and for always…

  11. This will be repealed by the Feds, count on it. The NEA, a major supporter of Obama, will not stand for one penny of tax going to a private school.

  12. How dare these parents take their kids out of our sex obsessed union and Progressive run schools! So I guess now instead of pizza Friday these kids in private school are going to learn U.S. History? What is going to take the place of feel good Wednesday, a spelling test where grades are given? If these children attend Catholic Schools how is the govt going to teach the first graders about sex and all the expressions of human sexuality? I bet these evil private schools also have standards and values that they push on kids!
    Well I for one hope the ACLU, the Democratic Party and the NEA stop this in the courts! It is obvious that parents do not know whats best for their children, unless they are from prestigious universities or make lots of money!

    Boooo Boooo Booo on vouchers!

  13. My daughters graduated from our public, small-town high school in 2000 and 2005. They got 32 and 30 on the ACT. They both went to college and graduated. They both go to Mass weekly and are caring people. There are a lot of stereo-types of public schools and teachers, some for reasons that have nothing to do with education.

  14. Will, no one is saying that every public school is bad. The first clue I saw on yours was “small-town”. I think parents in many school districts are locked into very poor and very dangerous schools and all deserve to have a say on how thier tax money is spent in teaching their kids.

    As to the democrats going after this, I hope they do in a very visible way. They have taken millions from the teachers unions and they owe them big time to force parents to keep sending their kids into this monopoly. This should allow parents to see first hand what they think of them and their kids versus the unions.

    What I do not understand is how government funds are given to students/parents who then can use them to select their college including catholic universities. How is giving the student/parent the amount of money being spent on education and allowing them to make the choice a problem?

  15. I have a problem with the government givng vouchers to parents in order to send them to a private school.

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