Gov. Mitch Daniels reportedly had a heated exchange with some Indiana public school teachers in a Statehouse hallway recently. He apparently had a more productive exchange with Catholic educators in a meeting he attended with state Superintendent Tony Bennett last week.
The principal of an Indianapolis Catholic school sent a message to parents last week, describing the meeting with Daniels and Bennett, at the Catholic Center on North Meridian Street in Indianapolis. The governor's spokeswoman confirmed he attended the meeting. An announcement on the Office of Catholic Education web site noted that Bennett would be at the Feb. 8 meeting, but the governor's visit was apparently unexpected.
It was effective, however. The school administrator's letter strongly urges support of the House Bill 1003, the voucher bill, and encourages parents to contact their legislators because they are "going to hear from the opposition."
"Initially, it might be difficult for those of us with children already attending private schools to get excited about this legislation because we do not see the direct benefit to us. Please do not fall victim to this thinking," the administrator writes. "If this bill passes, it will be the first step in moving to a system of true school choice with child-centered funding. We cannot get from where we are today to where we should be in one legislative session. It will take many sessions and many years. However, I do know that we will never get where we need to be if we do not take the first step. This is reason enough for us to enthusiastically support this legislation."
A list of "frequently asked questions" disingenuously suggests that the state spends far more on public school students than is the case: "Indiana public schools now spend, on average, over $10,000 per-pupil each year. The median private school tuition in Indiana is just over $5,000."
Actually, the state spends about $5,800 per pupil. Higher per-pupil spending comes from local property taxes to support transportation, capital projects and school debt. The debt obligations, in most cases, come from voter-approved building projects.
The governor reportedly had some sharp words for the public school teachers he spoke with in the Statehouse hallway. Wonder if he will contact the Office of Catholic Schools to take issue with its misleading school funding information?