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The Scoop

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Verbatim: Voucher law violates Indiana Constitution

Statement issued Friday by the Indiana State Teachers Association:

INDIANAPOLIS – Today, a lawsuit was filed in Marion County Superior Court requesting a preliminary injunction against the implementation of Indiana’s recently enacted school voucher law.

The voucher law violates provisions of the Indiana Constitution that safeguard Indiana taxpayers by ensuring that they are not compelled, through the taxes they pay, to support religious institutions, ministries and places of worship.

It also prohibits the State from diverting public education funds from the “uniform system of Common Schools” that are “equally open to all,” and instead uses this public money to send some children to private schools that are free to exercise student admissions preferences based on religion and other factors.

Signed into law by Gov. Mitch Daniels on May 5, the new law could cut funds to public schools by up to $65.8 million to finance voucher entitlements for private, religious and for-profit schools, a move that is clearly an unconstitutional use of public, taxpayer funds.

“There is no question that this law violates the provisions of the Indiana Constitution that protect taxpayer dollars from being funneled to private, religious and for-profit organizations,” said Teresa Meredith, a teacher in the Shelbyville Central Schools and one of the plaintiffs in the case. “The CSP also violates laws that seek to safeguard Hoosier students. This voucher program will provide public funds to private schools that can give individual preference to students based on test scores, disabilities, wealth and personal faith. Such preferences should not be publicly funded.”

If allowed to stand, this program will drain additional resources away from schools that are already suffering from deep budget cuts. “This law is also bad educational policy. How can lawmakers justify draining additional millions in resources from local public schools—on top of the $300 million in cuts made last year?” added Meredith. “The implementation of this law will most certainly result in larger class sizes, more teacher layoffs and fewer instructional programs for Hoosier public school students.”

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