School choice issue advances in Indiana

While the battle over school choice rages in New Jersey, a Midwestern state has advanced its cause a bit further.

The Indiana Senate Thursday passed legislation that would create the nation’s broadest school voucher program, allowing low- and middle-income families to use taxpayer funds to send their children to the private school of their choice.

House Bill 1003, which was approved by the Senate in a 28-22 vote, would create a new scholarship program enabling families to send their children to the private school of their choice. Scholarship amounts are determined on a sliding scale based on income, with families receiving up to 90 percent of state support.

The Indiana vote comes at a time when the Opportunity Scholarship Act and the whole concept of school choice has created sharp divisions in the Statehouse and in the school districts.

The Indiana House of Representatives previously approved a similar version of the bill by a vote of 56-42. The Senate version, which adds a $1,000 tax deduction for families that pay out of pocket for private or homeschool expenses, will now go back to the House.

If the House agrees to the changes made in the Senate, the bill will proceed to Governor Daniels, who is expected to sign the bill into law.

School choice issue advances in Indiana