Indiana: Mass Exodus of Students from the Public Schools

With public schools in Indiana spending anywhere between $9,000 and $14,000 per student annually, one would think the education they provide would be first class. Nine grand a year is quite a lot of money. Most private schools produce good academic results at half that cost; and homeschooling families perform miracles at just a portion of it.

Therefore, public school advocates shouldn’t have worried too much about the new voucher system introduced in the state of Indiana, where parents could take their vouchers and enroll their children in any school they want – provided the school has state accreditation.

But what happened is exactly what the public schools feared: more than 70% of the parents who took advantage of the vouchers transferred their children from the government-run public school system to private schools, mainly Catholic schools who have an established history and network in the state.

The exodus from the government schools is serious enough to alarm the public school bureaucrats in Indiana and force them to do meetings with the parents in attempt to dissuade them from transferring. A group in the state is suing the state to stop the vouchers program, claiming that most of the vouchers end up in religious schools, which supposedly violates the “separation of church and state.” (“Separation of church and state” is an imaginary legal principle conjured up by the secularists in the US to fight the historic public influence of the Christian religion in America; the phrase is not present in any founding document of the American Republic.)

Apparently, the parents believe the public schools are a bad choice for their children, and when public and private schools are given equal rights, parents overwhelmingly prefer to stay away from the government education. This trend has been observed with every voucher system in the United States so far; where vouchers were available for students from low-income families, the majority of the families preferred private schools. The Indiana state system of school vouchers introduced a few weeks ago is the by far the largest of its kind in the nation. And it only confirmed the trend.

The question that arises then is this: If the majority of parents prefer private schools, what is the purpose of the public school system? Besides enriching the teachers unions and the educational bureaucrats, the system doesn’t seem to turn our product that pleases the majority of parents. Given the fact that all taxpayers are forced to support it while having no part in controlling its work and policies, the public schools are a classic example of taxation without representation. Coupled with the poor results, they are a burden on the American taxpayer that can be removed without any negative results from such removal. As the vouchers in Indiana show very well, of the money is returned to the parents, they can find a way to teach their children, at a lower cost and much better quality.