INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Indiana Department of Education today released final numbers for the first year of the School Scholarship Program. The Hoosier State is now home to the nation's largest ever first-year voucher program. With 3,919 students approved for participation, families from every corner of the state are applauding Gov. Mitch Daniels, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, and state legislators for allowing them to choose a school that best meets their child's individual learning needs.
"The program is doing exactly what the legislature intended it to do," said Robert C. Enlow, president and CEO of the Indianapolis-based Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. "In just four short months, Indiana's School Scholarship Program has become the largest first-year program ever. Clearly, the demand for effective school options is very high in Indiana."
The final tally from the Department of Education finds that the level of participation in Indiana exceeded what was seen in other states during the first year of voucher program implementation. Until now, the largest first-year program was the Ohio EdChoice Program, which brought in 2,713 participants in 2007. The next highest voucher participation level came from the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program, where a total of 1,994 students participated in the first year of the program in 1997.
"It's terrific to see that so many families have taken advantage of this exciting new opportunity," said Lindsey Brown, executive director of School Choice Indiana. "Students are already benefiting from this important program and the stories that we've heard from parents and principals have been very encouraging."
According to the Department of Education:
- 85%, or 3,326, of the scholarship recipients qualify for the Free-and-Reduced Lunch Program, while 15%, or 593, come from middle-income families who qualify for a 50% scholarship.
- 69% of the students come from metropolitan areas, while 16% come from suburban areas and 15% from rural and town areas.
- 53% of the scholarship users come from minority families, including 24% African-American and 19% Hispanic.
- Children from 185 Indiana school districts are participating in the program, with no school district accounting for more than 17% of the total scholarship recipients.
"This statewide, income-inclusive program is doing exactly what Milton Friedman envisioned," said Enlow. "It significantly benefits low-income families but also helps middle-income families. It has broad reach across the state and significant participation from suburban and rural areas. And it helps a large number of minority children access a more effective education. I'd call that a success."
BY THE NUMBERS
Scholarship Participants: 3,919
Free/Reduced Lunch Total: 3,326
Total Qualifying for 50% Scholarship: 593
Scholarship Recipient District Type: Metropolitan (2,715); Suburban (630), Rural/Town (584)
Number of Public School Districts with Qualified Children: 185 out of 292
To see a series of charts detailing demographic breakdowns, including geographic, racial, and economic enrollment percentages, visit www.EdChoice.org/INVoucherNumbers.
Note: the above is a modified version of a joint press release from School Choice Indiana, The Indiana Non-Public Education Association, the Indiana Catholic Conference, The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Black Alliance for Educational Options, the American Federation for Children, and Agudath Israel.
About The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice: The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, solely dedicated to advancing Milton and Rose Friedman's vision of school choice for all children. First established as the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation in 1996, the Foundation continues to promote school choice as the most effective and equitable way to improve the quality of K-12 education in America. The Foundation is dedicated to research, education, and outreach on the vital issues and implications related to choice and competition in K-12 education.
For commentary and interview opportunities, please contact any of these school choice leaders:
President and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice
Executive Director of School Choice Indiana
Executive Director of the Indiana Non-Public Education Association
Executive Director of the Indiana Catholic Conference
Vice President, Education & Workforce Development, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce
Board Chair of the Black Alliance for Educational Options
American Federation for Children
Rabbi A.D. Motzen
Regional Director, Agudath Israel
SOURCE The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice