Sunday, April 16, 2023

Letter: Voucher expansion gutting public schools

NEIFPE member Kathy Candioto sent this letter to the editor about Indiana's school voucher plan.

Published: April 13, 2023

On March 1, Jennifer McCormick, the former Indiana state superintendent, spoke at an education forum at our downtown library.

The Journal Gazette quoted McCormick: “Vouchers are a program for wealthy, white, suburban kids. Period.”

Two letters have criticized McCormick for making such a “broad” statement. Both writers stated that vouchers are used by many low-income, hard-working families who do not live in the suburbs.

Of course, this last statement is true. In fact, in 2012, vouchers were created for low-income families who could not afford to attend private schools. Also, at that time, students were required to attend public school for one year before applying for a voucher.

In her defense, the former superintendent is fully aware of the families who have applied for vouchers. In her statement, McCormick was expressing her disappointment at the expansion of school vouchers in the past 11+ years.

In this year’s House budget proposal on education, legislators are asking for a $500 million increase over the next two years. This increase can only be achieved by raising the income limit for voucher applications.

This proposal would increase the family income limit for federal free or reduced-priced meals from the current 300% of income eligibility to 400%. And, in turn, that increase would boost the income limit for a family of four from the current $154,000 to $220,000. Again, a family of four with an income of $220,000 would be able to apply for tuition help in sending their children to a private school using taxpayer dollars.

The earlier requirement to attend a public school before applying for a voucher has long been lifted. Today, many of the students using a voucher to attend a private school have never and never intended to attend a public school.

McCormick, a strong supporter of public dollars for public schools, knows that if this Republican budget proposal passes, we will see one-third of additional state education money go to private schools that educate fewer than 10% of Indiana students.

Kathy Candioto

Fort Wayne


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