Thursday, March 28, 2013
The Indiana Supreme Court upheld a school voucher law over the objection of a group of parents, teachers and teachers' unions. They maintained that vouchers would fund religious schools, which is against the law. The justices said vouchers would allow poor parents to find decent educations for their children. The unions are right that most primary schools in Indiana that are not public are affiliated with a religion. The justices are right in saying that giving vouchers to parents is not direct funding of religious schools. This is an old argument that has been going on for decades, and it is a matter of perspective. For the longest time, teachers' unions and public school advocates held sway. They did a better job of publicity. Then, public schools fell behind, especially in poor districts, and they could not find a way to reform their embedded inefficiencies. That reignited efforts to develop vouchers, and public opinion changed. It could change back again if public schools are able to show substantial improvement. The best PR for teachers' unions are smart kids who meet testing standards. If they achieve that, they can minimize the impact of vouchers. But, classroom success takes hard work. It is no wonder that unions wanted to maintain a lock on the education system.