As state lawmakers debate a host of issues surrounding the future of public education, one group of advocates has a Jerry Maguire-esque message for its Tuesday rally at the Statehouse: Show me the money.
The goal, Marilyn Shank of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education told Fox 59 News, is two-fold.
First, convince legislators to fully restore the estimated $300 million cut from state education funding during the recession, she said. Second, stop the expansion of the private school voucher system.
“[Public school corporations] made budget cuts. They knew that times were tough and they had to do that,” Shanks said. “But when times are better, we need to give that money back to public schools.”
In current budget proposals, a portion of the cut funding could be restored, but that budget process is not over. Shank said that amount of money would not return class sizes back to pre-recession levels, but would help stop them from continuing to grow.
Joel Hand, also with the coalition, said the current voucher expansion proposal, in some instances, would give private schools more money per student than the public schools would need to support that student. The negative impact on the quality of the classroom, he claimed, would not be limited to the traditionally struggling districts.
“You have both inner cities and you also have rural schools that are substantially at risk through the private school vouchers, but that doesn’t mean the suburban schools aren’t at risk as well.”
Supporters of expanding the voucher system believe it is the best course forward for educating Hoosier children.
Vouchers provide Hoosier families with greater choice on how to educate their children and where to send them to school, proponents say.
Supporters also believe vouchers force struggling public school corporations to work hard to improve and remain competitive, while allowing families to send their kids to private schools they may not have otherwise been able to afford.
The Indiana Coalition for Public Education has both Republicans and Democrats on its list of speakers for the 2:30 p.m. event in the south atrium.
More information can be found online at www.icpe2011.com.