Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

March 20, 2013

Voucher opponents rally at Statehouse

GOSHEN — Hundreds of people gathered at the Indiana Statehouse Tuesday to rally against a bill that would expand the state’s private-school voucher program, already the largest in the nation.

Chanting “no more vouchers” and carrying signs with such messages as “Don’t use my tax money to teach religion,” opponents of the legislation said growing the voucher program would siphon away millions of dollars from traditional public schools still hurting from past budget cuts.

Indiana PTA president Sharon Wise called the legislation, supported by Republican Gov. Mike Pence, “a massive overstep.”

A Senate committee is scheduled to hear the bill today; the House has already passed a version of the legislation that could significantly expand the number of private- and religious school students eligible for the state-paid vouchers.

A roar of approval from the crowd went up when Vigo County Schools Superintendent Danny Tanoos said lawmakers need to be reminded of last November’s election, when voucher-opponent and school teacher, Glenda Ritz, beat Republican incumbent Tony Bennett, a voucher supporter, in the race for state schools superintendent.  

“Was the message not clear when we sent Tony Bennett packing?” Tanoos said. “Was it not clear when a great teacher, and not a politician, beat him by 100,000 votes?”

The rally took place in the large, open-ceilinged atrium of the Indiana Statehouse as legislators, meeting in session a floor above, could hear the crowd chanting and applauding the rally’s speakers.

It was organized by the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, whose members helped launch a social media campaign credited for Ritz’s surprise victory.

Tuesday’s rally was large and loud but it paled in comparison to a Statehouse rally held last week by voucher supporters, who bussed in children from private and parochial schools that accept the state vouchers as tuition payments.  

Pence spoke at that rally, along with several Republican legislative leaders.

The governor supports legislation that would loosen the restrictions on the state’s current voucher program, which provides an average of $4,100 in tuition payments for about 9,100 students from low-income families enrolled in private and parochial schools.

Pence backed a version of the bill that would’ve opened the program up to thousands of more students by waiving the requirement that students attend at least one year of public school before they can apply for a voucher.

The House passed a scaled-back version of the bill that allows kindergarteners and siblings of current voucher students to be eligible for a voucher without having to wait a year.

House Democrats who voted against the bill argued it was fiscally irresponsible to expand the program when it is only in its second year and while a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality is awaiting a ruling from the Indiana Supreme Court.

Senate Republicans may rein in the bill for fiscal reasons. State Sen. Luke Kenley, the powerful chairman of the Senate appropriations committee has already said he opposes expanding the program until the state has a better handle on its future costs.  

The House Republican budget bill forecasts spending for the voucher program to grow over the next two years from the current $37 million a year to $63 million annually, with the number of students growing to 15,000 in the 2014-2015 school year.

Those additional dollars would come from the $270 million that House Republicans want to restore to K-12 school funding, which was cut by almost $300 million in the past budget cycle due to the recession. Pence opposes that additional education funding, and instead is pushing for a cut in the state’s income tax rate.

The state Supreme Court is weighing the legality of the program after hearing arguments in November over a lawsuit pressed by the Indiana State Teachers Association that virtually all of the voucher money goes to schools whose primary purpose is to promote the teachings of their affiliated churches.

Maureen Hayden can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com

1
Text Only
Local News
  • GN140421 easter egg hunt 05 Local churches worship, have fun on Easter holiday GOSHEN Encouraged by bright blue skies and near-perfect temperatures in the low 70’s, families and churches from all across Goshen took to their yards Sunday afternoon to participate in a time-honored tradition: the Easter egg hunt. Included among th

    April 20, 2014 5 Photos

  • GN140420 ysk kalil 01.jpg You Should Know: Anthony Kalil GOSHEN -- Goshen native Anthony Kalil has been awarded a Richard Trucker Career Grant, which includes a $10,000 cash prize. He currently lives in New York. The grant is awarded to three of America's top young opera singers who are selected after a by

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • GN140420 The 39 Steps Taking 'Steps' in Bristol BRISTOL -- The Elkhart Civic Theatre crew is set to present the classic Alfred Hitchcock mystery "The 39 Steps" at The Bristol Opera House. Performances of "The 39 Steps" are planned for two weekends -- this coming Friday and Saturday and May 2 and 3

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140420 Kokomo Tornado 03 Recent decisions by FEMA have frustrated state and local leaders KOKOMO, Ind. -- Pamela Jackson thought she was lucky to escape harm as a tornado bore down on her neighborhood last November. She huddled in a bathroom with her two disabled sons, critically ill husband and six other family members as the twister ble

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • GN140418 ghs high mileage team 12.jpg Goshen High School Super Mileage team to compete in national competition for third straight year GOSHEN -- The Goshen High School Super Mileage team is heading to Houston this week to compete in the Shell Eco Marathon for the third consecutive year. The team, led by engineering technology teacher J.J. Johnson, is taking two cars to the competiti

    April 20, 2014 5 Photos

  • BIZ GN0420 tech talk image Mistakes businesses make with their home page Mistakes businesses make with their home page

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140420 boston marathon 04.jpg Undeterred by last year's bombing, several locals return for Monday's Boston Marathon GOSHEN "Boston Strong" is the moniker that emerged from Boston a year ago, describing the way people dealt with the tragic events that marred the 117th annual running of the Boston Marathon. Three spectators were killed and 264 more people injured w

    April 19, 2014 5 Photos

  • GN140419 good friday 04 Local Christians reflect in advance of Easter Sunday GOSHEN - Members of the community gathered at First Presbyterian Church of Goshen to observe Good Friday with a Stations of the Cross tour.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Briefly Elkhart Store opens at mall Creative Life Memories is now open at Concord Mall. The store is owned by Jose Elizalde, a native of Chicago, Goshen College graduate and resident of Elkhart County. CLM specializes in engraving and personalizing small gif

    April 19, 2014

  • GN140419 cyclists return 05 Trio of GC alums return from Pan-American trek GOSHEN — The dream for a pan-American cycling adventure was born for Levi Smucker, Abe Stucky, and Michael Miller on the couches in a dormitory room at Goshen College in late 2010,

    April 18, 2014 5 Photos

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

There has been discussion at West Goshen Elementary School to require mandatory student uniforms in the future. How do you feel about the prospect of mandatory student uniforms in a public school environment?

I think it’s an excellent idea that is way overdue
I think it’s a bad idea and would be restrictive for students and parents.
     View Results
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest