Indiana News

Pence Speech at School Choice Gathering Showcases Indiana's Law

Indiana voucher law is nation's most expansive

5/20/2013


Gov. Mike Pence (center) signed an expansion of Indiana's school voucher law May 9. (WIBC.com file photo: Eric Berman)

Governor Pence's Monday keynote speech at a national conference in Maryland to discuss and promote private school choice laws marks a recognition of Indiana's leading role in the movement.

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22 states have passed some version of laws to make it easier for students to attend private schools, but none has gone as far as Indiana, where about 55% of students are eligible for vouchers. Jeff Reed with the Indianapolis-based pro-voucher Friedman Foundation says Indiana focused its voucher law on low-income students, while other states used narrower, special-needs criteria, such as students in foster care, or whose assigned public schools had flunked state accountability measures.

And Reed credits the enthusiastic support of then-Governor Mitch Daniels -- and the continuation of support under Pence -- with encouraging legislators to craft a more broad-based law. He says Indiana's margin over other states may narrow in the next few years, as the Indiana Supreme Court decision upholding Indiana's law has given other states a roadmap for making sure their laws stand up to challenges.

This year's expansion of Indiana's voucher law, which Pence signed into law this month, tacks on the categories other states started with.

Indianapolis City-County Council president Maggie Lewis is also speaking at the American Federation for Children conference. Other speakers include former WNBA star Lisa Leslie, former George W. Bush campaign pollster Matthew Dowd and former Bill Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry.

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