On May 19, I attended the School Choice meeting sponsored by the Friedman Foundation. The event was held in downtown Ft. Wayne. Representatives of the Foundation presented the same ideas offered in the July 14 op-ed piece, The Choice is Clear. Numerous glossy booklets filled with the goals of the School Choice Foundation were available to the attendees of the meeting.
Milton Friedman (1912-2006) was a well-known supporter of free-market economics. Early on, Friedman called for market solutions to just about everything including education. This was the beginning of his idea for school choice. Friedman said,” Education spending will be most effective if it relies on parental choice and private initiatives – the building blocks of success throughout our society.”
As a public school supporter, I cannot agree with Friedman or the Foundation for School Choice. I cannot support tax dollars going to school vouchers and private schools. At the May 19 meeting, I reminded presenters that, in Indiana, and very specifically FWCS, money used for vouchers is money robbed from public schools. Since the inception of the Indiana voucher program in 2011, the number of vouchers used for private schools has grown by 30,000 and will only INCREASE since there is no CAP on their availability. FWCS alone has suffered a loss of $19 million since 2011. We have just one “education pot” in our state. From that pot, legislators take BOTH public school and voucher funds.
The folks at the Friedman Foundation have the money and the time to spread the word on School Choice. Indiana legislators must call for a year’s moratorium on vouchers and take a hard look at what harm School Choice is doing and will continue to do to our public schools. Perhaps they will find that a cap should be restored to voucher availability at the very least. Legislators want to do research on the effectiveness of proposed statewide pre-K policy. Why not do some research on the effect of school choice which has already diverted $115 million from public school funds. Strong PUBLIC schools reflect an education-minded community.