INDIANAPOLIS, May 5, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- School Choice supporters applauded Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels today for signing the School Scholarships Act (House Bill 1003) into law. The sweeping initiative creates the most expansive school voucher program in the country and ushers in a new era of education access that will benefit students and families across the state.
"This is a great day for Indiana families and students," said School Choice Indiana Executive Director Luke Messer. "We've seen voucher programs work well in other states and now it's our turn. I'm excited about the power that this initiative holds to improve test scores and graduation rates at public schools and private schools alike."
Vouchers will start being accepted in Indiana this fall at eligible non-public schools that participate in the program. Approximately 600,000 students are expected to qualify under the low- and middle-income requirements outlined in the law. But, participation for the upcoming school year is capped at 7,500 students. The cap increases to 15,000 students for 2012-2013 and limits on the number of available vouchers are removed starting in year three.
"Hoosier families are now free to make the best choices for their children," said Robert Enlow, President and CEO of The Foundation for Educational Choice. "In states with similar programs, the demand for vouchers grows rapidly and we encourage families to learn about their options and get their applications in as soon as they can."
Successful voucher programs have already been implemented in multiple states including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Utah, Wisconsin, and Washington, D.C. In addition, tax credit scholarship programs already exist in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
As signed into law, HB 1003 also expands Indiana's existing tax credit scholarship program by increasing the amount of available tax credits from $2.5 million to $5 million. Individuals and corporations are allowed to claim a 50 percent tax credit for contributions to approved scholarship granting organizations.
"The great thing about the tax credit scholarship program expansion is that it will give significantly more parents the tools they need to best meet their children's educational needs," said Indiana Non-Public Education Association Executive Director John Elcesser.
The adoption of school choice programs in other states gives Hoosiers a roadmap on what to expect in the months and years ahead. Voucher programs have generated positive results in other cities and states including:
- Research has shown that students who get vouchers do better on standardized tests and have better graduation rates.
- Of the 22 studies on the impact of vouchers on public schools, 21 found that vouchers improve public school performance and one found no visible impact.
- Studies have found that American public schools actually improve over time because of school choice programs and that poorly performing schools improve the fastest when exposed to school vouchers.
- Vouchers also lead to higher parent satisfaction because they enable parents to find the best school to meet their child's unique educational needs.
About School Choice Indiana:
School Choice Indiana, Inc. is a non-partisan, statewide organization dedicated to the principle that providing parents with real choices in the education of their children will improve educational outcomes and improve the quality of education, both in private and public schools.
SOURCE School Choice Indiana