Wednesday, March 30, 2011

School Vouchers Advance in Indiana & D.C.

House Speaker Boehner's bill will restore the District of Columbia school voucher program that was killed by the previous Democrat Congress.

The school voucher plans for Republican-controlled Indiana will be the most expansive in the nation.

UPDATE 3/26/13: Indiana Supreme Court unanimously upholds law, case closed

UPDATE 8/29/11: Teacher's union battles against Indiana voucher program

UPDATE 4/28/11: Nation's broadest voucher plan to be law in Indiana

UPDATE 3/30/11: House passes DC school voucher bill

-- From "Indiana pushes ahead with school-voucher plan" by The Associated Press 3/29/11

Unlike other [voucher] systems that are limited to lower-income households, children with special needs or those in failing schools, this one would be open to a much larger pool of students, including those whose parents earn up to $60,000 a year.

Students receiving vouchers make up less than 1 percent of school enrollment nationwide, but vouchers have been one of the top priorities among conservatives. Indiana's Republican-controlled General Assembly hopes to deliver soon on its long-sought overhaul of public education now that Democrats who fled the state over anti-union proposals have returned.

Democrats in the House stayed in Illinois for five weeks to deprive the chamber of a quorum because they did not have enough votes to stop the voucher proposal and others they oppose. They came back Monday, claiming victory after winning some concessions from the Republicans on vouchers and other legislation.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "GOP makes due on promised voucher changes" by Lesley Stedman Weidenbener, The Daily News Journal 3/29/11

Students in a family of four [in Indiana] with a household income of $41,348 or less would receive a voucher worth 90 percent of private school tuition. Next school year, students in a family of four with incomes between $41,349 and $62,022 would receive a voucher worth 50 percent of a private school’s tuition. The bill includes some limits on tuition.

Private schools could participate if their students take the state’s standardized ISTEP test, and the schools could maintain their current admissions policies – including test scores and religious preferences.

But the schools could not pick and choose among eligible students. Under an amendment passed Tuesday, they would be required to hold a public lottery if there are more eligible voucher students than there are available spots.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "House likely to approve D.C. school choice bill, but future in limbo" by Ben Pershing, Washington Post 3/30/11

Under the [voucher] program, which began in 2004, low-income District [of Columbia] students are given federal money to help pay for private school tuition. Democrats closed the program to new entrants in 2009. But Boehner’s bill – known as the SOAR Act – would reopen it, offering $20 million annually for five years for new scholarships, along with another $20 million apiece for D.C. charter schools and traditional D.C. public schools.

With the likely backing of nearly every Republican in the House and possibly some Democrats, the bill should clear the chamber with ease. But it faces a steep climb in the Senate, where Democratic leaders are opposed and unlikely to bring it up as a standalone bill.

. . . Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who will lead the opposition to the bill on the House floor, said the voucher program steers money to a tiny percentage of District students while ignoring the city school system’s broader needs. The Washington Teachers Union opposes the measure for the same reason.

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said that “a $100 million congressional giveaway to religious and other private schools is not going to help reduce the budget deficit. This wastes taxpayer dollars and undermines the public schools.”

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Obama team opposes Boehner's school vouchers bill" by Catalina Camia, USA TODAY 3/29/11

The Obama administration "strongly opposes" a bill championed by House Speaker John Boehner . . . [but the] administration's statement stops short of saying President Obama will veto the measure, known as the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act or SOAR.

The House is scheduled to vote Wednesday on the bill by Boehner, R-Ohio, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.

Under this measure, a scholarship program created in 2004 that expired in 2009 would be revived. The bill would provide as much as $12,000 for students in Washington to pay for private school tuition at any high school of their choice. It would also provide federal help to improving public charter schools in the nation's capital.

Boehner had told Politico that he hoped President Obama would demonstrate his commitment to bipartisanship and overhauling the nation's schools by backing the bill. But school vouchers have long been opposed by the National Education Association and their allies in the Democratic Party, who believe they take away resources for public schools.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.