Indiana Supreme Court upholds broad school voucher law
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the broadest school voucher program in the nation in a ruling that supporters say could set a precedent as other states look to build or expand programs that allot public money for students to attend private schools.
The state's highest court unanimously upheld a 2011 law providing vouchers for low- and middle-income families and cleared the way for an expansion being debated in the Indiana Statehouse. But more importantly, it could settle the case law for other states where voucher programs have legal challenges, supporters contend.
“I think it will be incredibly influential,” said Bert Gall, senior attorney for the Washington-based Institute for Justice, who helped defend the Indiana law.
The Indiana voucher program, passed by the Legislature in 2011, is the most sweeping in the nation and the biggest test yet of the conservative Republican idea that giving families choice creates a greater incentive for public schools to improve. Unlike voucher programs in other states, which are limited to low-income families and failing school districts, Indiana's program is more broadly available. Parents with household incomes of as much as nearly $64,000 for a family of four are eligible.
Jeff Reed, spokesman for the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, said 530,000 Indiana students qualify for vouchers, although only 9,000 receive them.
Public school officials fear the eventual loss of thousands of students, especially those from the middle class, along with the state money that comes with them.
The U.S. Supreme Court kicked the fight over school vouchers to the states in a split 2002 ruling. That left supporters and opponents to fight over whether school voucher laws violated similar clauses in state constitutions.
Indiana joins states like Louisiana and Wisconsin, where voucher or voucher-style laws have been upheld. But Arizona and Florida's courts have ruled against vouchers, and the issue remains to be resolved in other states.
Supporters say the ruling could sway courts in other states because the Indiana Constitution contains a clause copied by many states in the mid-1800s in a bid to bar public aid for Catholic schools. The so-called “Blaine Amendment” was meant at the time to keep public money flowing to Protestant-dominated public schools.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 28 evacuated as fire hits oil platform off Louisiana coast
- As oil production soars, so do pipeline leaks
- D.C. mansion murder suspect had help, police say
- Calif. farmers’ group will cut water use in historic deal
- Coal’s worst fears affirmed in analysis of Obama climate plan
- Police officials rethink approach to training
- Suspect in killings of wealthy D.C. family arrested
- Ex-Va. lawmaker plans to wed teen in sex scandal
- Senators push for full funding for Amtrak
- George Harrison guitar from 1963 fetches $490K at auction
- Legislators continue to slow trade proposal