Casey Smith, writing for the Indiana Capital Chronicle, has a report on the nearly final state budget’s impact on education. Some of the key take aways:
- The General Assembly will appropriate $1.1 billion over the two year budget cycle to subsidize private schools. A family of four making $220,000 per year will be eligible for the subsidy.
- The public school appropriation, increasing by 5.1% over two years, likely won’t even keep up with inflation (assuming inflation will be more than 2.6% per year.)
- A pilot program in Lake, Marion, St. Joe, & Vanderburgh requires schools passing referendum funding in those counties after June 30 of this year to share their referendum taxes with charters. I’ll be shocked if that doesn’t expand statewide in the very near future.
- Somewhat good news is that when eliminating text book fees, instead of making schools absorb those costs, the budget includes $160 million per year for those fees. (Back of the napkin math – Indiana has somewhat over 1 million students, so I guess that’s something like $150/student for fees depending on the details of how that’s allocated.)
With the inclusion of people in the $154,000 – $220,000 income bracket and elimination of some other barriers, the private school subsidy is expected to increase from 53,000 students to 95,000. (Compare this to 4,500 back in 2011.) Keep in mind, vouchers do nothing to improve educational outcomes.
Although small, pilot-phase programs showed some promise two decades ago, new evaluations of vouchers in Washington, D.C., Indiana, Louisiana, and Ohio show some of the largest test score drops ever seen in the research record—between -0.15 and -0.50 standard deviations of learning loss. That’s on par with what the COVID-19 pandemic did to test scores, and larger than Hurricane Katrina’s impacts on academics in New Orleans.
While failing in its stated goals, the Indiana General Assembly’s approach to privatizing public education is accomplishing its actual goals: 1) subsidize religious education; 2) weaken teacher’s unions; and 3) redirect public money to private interests.