Indiana Schools Are Giving Parents Vouchers, But Not For School Choice

It might not be school choice, but Indiana is ramping up efforts to get kids back on track with tutoring vouchers.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

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tutoring vouchers

Instead of giving taxpayers school choice or tax breaks for homeschooling, Indiana schools are offering vouchers for a different education option: tutoring. Because school choice is still a topic of debate, but students are falling behind at rapid rates, tutoring vouchers offer a compromise. But what exactly does it entail and what does it mean for students and their families?

It’s no secret that the public education system has been falling behind for years. Even before the pandemic schools on both coasts were struggling to prepare students for assessments, college, and adulthood. Then, during the pandemic, bad political policies ranged from disqualifying students from failing — even if they didn’t learn the material required to move on to the next grade — and dumbing down material, to allocating relief money for programs that furthered far-left identity politics. These measures combined with already ineffective teaching methods displayed that obvious changes are needed. Yet which changes, and how they should be implemented, are a serious point of contention, so it’s no wonder that tutoring vouchers are now on the table.  

tutoring vouchers

As enrollment continues to drop, inflation skyrockets and support for school choice grows, some districts have joined The Time Collaborative. This plan is to literally extend school hours while cutting teaching time, and somehow parents are supposed to buy into the idea that this is going to better educate their children. Solutions are tricky and often costly, but the hope is that by providing free study help through tutoring vouchers, Indiana schools will not have to extend classroom hours, or cut pay raises to provide a well-rounded education. 

The tutoring vouchers will require just $15 million of the state’s federal relief money. The state received $2.8 billion for education alone, so the program is well within budget. These will be offered as “enrichment scholarships,” that afford $500 to each qualifying student. The Indiana Department of Education plans to base these awards on test scores, as well as other unspecified criteria. So far, there is no timeline for when the program will be rolled out, or how the funds will be distributed to qualifying students. 

tutoring vouchers

State Representative, Bob Behning, sponsored the plan and noted that students weren’t where they needed to be. In 2021, students were failing English and Math at alarming rates. Just around 28% of students were passing these subjects and that was down a quarter from how they tested in 2019. By providing tutoring vouchers, Behning and other officials are hoping to improve students’ understanding and provide them with the tools they need to succeed. 

Public education and COVID relief funds are under intense scrutiny from all sides. Taxpayers are concerned about the state of education, and where their money is going. States and cities across the nation are scrambling to find solutions. Each area has its own answers, and various parental positions to consider. The success of these new tutoring vouchers isn’t just a concern for the state of Indiana, but other areas considering school choice, and other similar options which may be more universally accepted.