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August 27, 2012 Print

Indiana Public Schools Fight Scholarship Program

by Bethany Monk

One of the nation’s largest private-school scholarship programs for low-income students is doubling in size. And public school districts across Indiana have launched an ad campaign to encourage families not to use it.

School districts are purchasing billboard space and radio ads to persuade parents to keep their children in the public school system. Some districts are even sending principals door-to-door.

“It just goes to show you how worried some of these public school systems are,” said Susan Myers, media relations director for the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

Opponents claim that for each student who uses a scholarship to attend the private school of their parents’ choice, a public school district loses between $5,300 and $8,400. And with the average household income in Indiana hovering around $67,000, many of the state’s one million schoolchildren are eligible to receive them.

The program, which accommodated 7,500 children last year, has room for 15,000 this year.

Rather than fearing competition, Meyers said, public schools should embrace it; studies show the more competition a public school faces, the better its students perform academically.

A study released by Harvard University last week shows that low-income children using private-school scholarships in New York City are more likely to attend college than their peers in public school.

Read “The Effects of School Vouchers on College Enrollment: Experimental Evidence from New York City.”


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