INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
A growing number of Indiana students receiving school vouchers already are
enrolled in private schools, a new report released Monday by the Indiana
Department of Education said.
Department analysts found that roughly 40 percent of students - about 7,800
children - who received vouchers for the 2013-14 school had never enrolled
in Indiana’s public schools. The other 60 percent, about 12,000 children,
had spent at least a year in public schools.
The report tracked
the first three years of Indiana’s school voucher program, and bore out some
of the promises of its staunchest supporters along with some of the
criticisms of detractors.
have derided the program as draining money from public schools to subsidize
private and religious schools. Monday’s report showed growth of so-called
“non-public” voucher recipients beginning to cost the state more money,
although vouchers still ended up saving Indiana about $5 million last year,
because a typical recipient only receives up to 90 percent of what is spent
on a public school student.
president of the Indianapolis-based Friedman Foundation for Educational
Choice, which supports vouchers, said the report showed vouchers improve
options for low-income families throughout the state. Ethnic minorities have
accounted for close to half of recipients for the past three years.
“There are still
high percentages of children of color in private schools, plus a small
increase in the metropolitan users. Plus the market, as it were, is becoming
more diverse (note growth in choice as percentage of total, and the growth
of all options),” Enlow wrote in an email Monday.
voucher program is one of the most expansive in the nation and also one of
the quickest growing, but accounts for a small portion of the state’s
roughly 1 million students.
A bargain struck in
2011 between former Gov. Mitch Daniels and voucher opponents required
recipients to have spent at least one year in a public school before
receiving a voucher. But lawmakers approved a modest expansion last year
that eliminated that requirement for some students.