Your Tax Dollars at Work

One hundred and sixteen million dollars. That’s the amount that Education Week reports will be made available this year to Indiana’s voucher schools. Needless to say, that’s also the amount that will be taken away from Indiana’s public schools.

Two new reports detail the exponential growth of the state’s school voucher program: One is the annual report issued by the Indiana Department of Education, the other comes from the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, which is based out of Indiana University’s School of Education.

The article notes that Indiana has been steadily expanding its voucher program since it was first created in 2011.

Recent changes include raising the threshold on income eligibility, lifting the participation cap on the program, and opening the program up to students who were already enrolled in private schools. For example, the legislature passed a bill in 2013 making students zoned to schools graded “F” in the state’s accountability system eligible for vouchers even if they had never attended their local public school.

For the current school year, fewer than 50 percent of students in the voucher program had previously attended a public school. In other words, we taxpayers have generously taken over the cost of private schooling for  parents who had previously been footing their own bills. At the same time that our public schools–especially in urban areas–are being starved of resources.

Voucher programs in Indiana and Ohio have some of the least restrictive income-eligibility requirements in the country.

And I’m sure it’s just a coincidence in our “buckle of the bible belt” state, but 94% of the schools participating in the voucher program are religious schools.

Honest to Goodness. Indiana.

26 thoughts on “Your Tax Dollars at Work

  1. The public seems uninformed – or uninterested in being informed – about the reality of vouchers. They don’t seem to understand or care that the money for these vouchers comes from public school tax dollars then they complain about the poor quality of education in public schools. They ignore the political battle going on between Pence’s minions and duly elected Democrat Glenda Ritz and continue their battle to strip her of rights and responsibilities in her position. Probably in part sour grapes because she got more votes than he received when elected governor. We, the thinking residents of this state, need to do all we can to overcome voter apathy before we become a state known for illiteracy in action and having all those sports arenas.

  2. Joann, you seem to forget that the money does not belong to the schools. It belongs to the parents. Vouchers give parents a choice on how their money is spent. Funny how Democrats decry choice in education while praising the choice if killing children. Any group that thinks abortion is just a choice cares nothing about children. This is all about power. Dems want power over everyone. If you support abortion except in life or death situations you have no credibility on any issue involving children.

    Glenda Ritz will still be SPI. And she can still be chosen to chair the board. But if she wants to be chair she should learn how these meetings operate. The chair can’t just end a meeting bevause things aren’t going her way. Ritz is in over her head and us wholely unqualified for the position she holds.

  3. Brian; the voucher funds do NOT go to parents. It goes to the selected school if the application is accepted; if the student leaves that school for any reason – including expulsion, moving, illness, death – the money stays in the voucher school for the remainder of the school year. We are NOT given a choice as to how our school tax dollars are spent – that is decided by elected officials. I will soon be 78 years old and my tax dollars still go to support education in this city; parents who choose to send their child to a private school pay a fee to do so. This means they are paying twice; the private school fee (unless vouchered of course) and their tax dollars going into public education and used at the discretion of elected officials with no say in the decision.

  4. Brian, you seem to forget that this money was originally ours, that we gave it to the state in our taxes as part of the agreement that it would be used for the common good, not as a money laundering project that would support religious education. Part of last year’s $81 million thrown at religion was mine. Furthermore, it’s “funny” how you want to bring in abortion to the financing of education in Indiana. That not related.

    I certainly agree that this is about power, and its arbitrary exercise by a governor and legislature which believes that they are on some moral mission to justify the use of my money on religious education, and that it’s just fine to ignore their responsibility to serve the common good. That is, in fact, taking tax money and funding religion, regardless of the fiction they have devised.

    Finally, so people are qualified when you agree with them? How about the qualifications of that radio host whose ideology surpasses his political sensibilities? In the words of the Republican political operative, “the jungle drums are beating” for his hide. Glenda Ritz is an educator who is, by definition, an authority on the subject. Stop listening to your echo chamber and think about this for a bit.

  5. (Ritz is in over her head and us wholely unqualified for the position she holds.)

    Interesting Statement.
    It could apply to about 95% of the currently serving Republican’s

  6. Jo, you are preaching to the choir. Anyone who doesn’t know the difference between a glob of protoplasm and a child could not be relied upon to tell a lemon from a tree! We seem to be unable to fully understand that MONEY is a product of government and the simplest way to get rich is to transfer that money. Republics were established in order to redistribute that money to the people through goods and services. Republicans, who used to be Dixiecrat s after being Southern Democrats and are now The Tea Party.. Many names for one purpose: Government was crated in order to transfer that money to me!

    As as aside: Why is it that you’ll only find rocking chair women and wheel chair men railing over young women’s health care? That tells ya right there!

  7. I sure hope some Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist groups are paying attention. EASY MONEY from the IN Gov. Go get some. It would sure be fun to watch the heads explode on the Tea Party folks.

  8. This is a denominational/religion breakdown of our biggest ($1 million or over) voucher-getters. I hope you agree with their religious point of view because your tax money supported them:
    Catholic, $14.4 million
    Lutheran, $1.4 million
    Christian nondenominational, $1.1 million
    Muslim, $1 million.

    Meanwhile, the teachers in our public schools are sending out pleas to their parents, asking for materials because the schools can’t afford them. So, if you think that the public schools are worthless, give them less money, and over time you will be right. Then let the voucher schools use any old test they want, and be allowed to teach anti-intellectual and anti-science curricula, and they will turn out to be worthless, too. We all lose that war, but the ideologues will have won, so to speak. Dumb will become dumber.

  9. There’s a Brian Kelsey in our state who also babbles on in a similar fashion. Same one? Maybe he’s moved to Indiana? Nah, he has it too good in our state.

  10. Democrats demand data. Republicans believe what they’re told.

    Simple question. What data suggests charter schools have solved any real problem?

    When most education has been irreversibly converted to private business, public funding will be cut. Then Brian your wish will come true. Only you will be paying to “educate” your children and only if you can afford it.

    That’s how the third world work because that’s how oligarchy wants it.

  11. Pete, sounds like a familiar strategy. Draw them in, trap them and starve them in the trap. Recipe for destruction.

  12. The hypothesis that taxes collected belong to the parents is totally bogus. This twisted logic had to be applied in order to fund the Voucher-Charter School Scheme. If you carry this “Logic” further I should have a “Choice” also in what type of weapons the Department of Defense should purchase : Cluster Bombs, Tomahawk Missiles, M-16s, etc., or not purchase at all since I am an Anti-War type.

  13. Privatization of schools is simply a money grab and is more accurately described as Piratization. There is no reason for public tax dollars to support private schools for any reason. Every dollar stolen from the public school system serves to weaken it further. On top of that the Piratizing schools aren’t subject to the same hoops to jump through, and, as we have already seen in Indiana, can have their grades “adjusted” to make them look better. Charter schools are no more than theft from Indiana taxpayers at the expense of poorer children. The goal of Pence and his band of pirates is to weaken the public system to the point they can dispose of it entirely and devote more tax dollars to their puppeteers. Shame.

  14. Stuart; are those figures for Indianapolis only or for the state? They are appalling whatever your answer is.

  15. Brian is right–the whole dodge of how the state funds parochial schools is through this fiction ensconsed in Brian Kelsey’s comment–just before he goes off the rails about democrats. In normal times it wouldn’t survive the sniff test, but, Brian and Ma Ferguson, first female governor of texas, are apparently of the same school of thought, i.e., ‘if its good enough for jesus it’s good enough for us.

  16. JoAnn: This list was reported in a news story on Indianapolis TV channel 6. Remember that I didn’t report the entire list of schools, but just the ones receiving $1 million or more. You can get the whole story and the state Dept. of Education source on http://www.theindychannel.com/news/local-news/doe-14-ind-schools-to-receive-more-than-1m-in-choice-scholarships. Thanks for asking.

    This is deplorable and under ordinary circumstances would embarrass anyone living here, but recall that this travesty actually came out of a legislative process which claims to protect the common good. This ideological outrage should be understood as irresponsible, even to the most committed member of the base responsible for electing these individuals.

    Thanks for asking.

  17. Sheila and all commenters; wouldn’t it be interesting to get statistics as to how many parents of voucher students are Republicans – and how many are wealthy enough to pay their child’s tuition and did so till vouchers were available?

  18. Just me again; I perused that school report, didn’t see Center Township on that list of Marion County schools with voucher students.

  19. What we DO care about is what happens to the child after they are born. My sympathy goes to all the future children born into a country that has embraced this balkanization of education. We need to be one nation with a strong public education system that really attempts to apply reason and make lives better instead of relegating the less fortunate kids to the poor house for life. This hateful, competitive, narrow-minded and mean-spirited move toward privatizing education sounds more like Dickens every day. Congratulations, “pro-life” Brian. Good way to “care about children.” As for “power,” women should have the fundamental right to reproduce or not. Sheesh. What a moralizing load of bull. Moreover, Louie is spot on when it comes to control of ones taxes. To what absurd degree is anyone taking that argument that each taxpayer (God love individualism!) gets to dictate exactly how the funds are spent? This is just another example of how the public commons and all things that the government does better are being usurped by people who have religious and economic agendas.

  20. Excellent points by everyone except Brian Kelsey. Normally I would assume that his lack of intelligence is due to a pea-sized brain, however in his case I believe that his brain is much smaller than even a pea.

  21. Brian cares deeply about unborn children, but not so much about those who are living. Sounds like someone whose real motivation is to keep women in their place. People like Brian have a loud voice in today’s political environment, but their numbers are diminishing. Thank God!

  22. This seems unconstitutional, unethical, discriminatory. In addition, it appears that charter/private schools are not really saving Indiana money. If more money leaves a school district, property taxes will likely have to go up to make up for additional state funding loss to keep public schools going. If a new lawsuit was brought to the State Supreme Court this year with all this new data and citizen uproar, what is the likelihood that their prior ruling (2013) could be overturned?

  23. Vouchers are income based, so the “rich people” fallacy is misinformation.
    Public K-12 receives OVER HALF of our state budget (app. $7.3 BILLION) and 41% of property tax dollars (app. $2.7 BILLION), this is app. $10 BILLION EVERY YEAR.
    To be making an issue about $116 million being spent by parents exercising choice in their child’s education, when K-12 receives $10 billion, is incredulous!

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