Letter To The Editor: Universal Vouchers Are Here
Last Wednesday was the first hearing of a bill that authors feel will put parents first in the education of their children, but the way it is written has every possibility of throwing their kids’ education under the bus.
SB 305 is the culmination of a 12-year progression of getting public monies to private institutions through vouchers. This bill, SB305, will put no income limits on families who apply, and funding will be for everything, including but not limited to tuition, fees, books, field trips, etc. It is a universal voucher.
Putting public vs private arguments aside, there are issues with the bill I hope you will consider offering your opinion to the Chair of the Senate Education and Career Committee.
Here are the main issues I have:
First, there is no accountability written in the bill to the standard of education the student should receive either from the vendor, facility or his homeschooling parent.
Second, it is up to the State Treasurer (who has no expertise in education per his admission) to determine vendor (school, program, facility) eligibility,
Third, the receiving vendors aren’t subject to review by the State Treasurer or the State Board of Accounts or even have to publish an annual fiscal report.
Lastly, there is no good fiscal on the bill. It is reported to cost several hundred million just to address the vouchers and on top of this for every 300 students the State Treasurer gets to add an employee at $60,000 a year.
Twelve years ago the voucher concept to help disadvantaged kids attend better schools was initiated in Indiana. Many of us thought this was not bad idea. The concept today, however, doesn’t resemble the original intent and with school choice in public education and other educational changes, the conversation has been satisfied.
This bill, SB305, should not go further. It is a waste of valuable time. The idea needs complete work over. If you want universal vouchers, then please ask legislators to take time and establish a system that promotes integrity, protects it from misuse, and is one taxpayers can afford and respect.
I, personally, think vouchers should remain income-based (although that dollar amount should be expanded due to inflation), and I believe should require input by legislation from some State entity that is educational. The system whether universal or not should require monitoring by the State of the use of the monies; should require performance measurements of the students as in public schools; and, provide fiscal transparency through the State Board of Accounts.(And they need staff).
Speak your mind now. I’ve spoken mine.
GAIL RIECKEN-EVANSVILLE, IND.
FOOTNOTE: WRITE YOUR OPINION TO: Senate Chair of Education and Career Development, Sen. Jeff Raatz, Indiana State Senate, 2200 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN. 46204-2785