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Voucher program's real winners?

The fight over Indiana's school voucher program gets some national attention in this Associated Press story by Kimberly Hefling.

It begins with the obligatory anecdote from a parent in Indianapolis, thrilled that her children have escaped their neighborhood school for a parochial school.

But the money quote comes from urban education expert Pedro Noguera, who points out that vouchers won't necessarily serve all students. Many still can't afford private/parochial schools or won't be admitted or don't have the transportation to attend.

"As a strategy for creating more integrated schools, it hasn't shown that it works at all. So we have to ask ourselves, what is really the goal here?" Noguera said. "If the goal is to increase access to high quality schools, there's no research supporting it. But, there is clear evidence that as you lose children from the public schools, you undermine the fiscal support for public education."

"What is really the goal here?" is the question too few Indiana lawmakers asked before supporting the nation's most expansive voucher program.

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at kfrancisco@jg.net.

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