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Open Letter to Governor Pence
In the near future, you will be making one of the most important decisions of your tenure as Governor of Indiana. That is your decision on HB 1003
which would expand Indiana's already problematic school voucher program. You have the power to veto this bill which takes much needed money away from our public schools or to allow even more taxpayers' money to be diverted to private schools.
Indiana is one of only nine states without a publicly funded preschool program. Full-day kindergarten has not yet been funded in all school districts. School vouchers pull the largest amount of money from school systems that serve the most challenging student populations. These are the schools which need the most resources. Low test scores, which are used to rate schools in Indiana, are correlated with low income and are not a fair assessment of the quality of teachers or the school. Children from disadvantaged homes are the ones who would benefit the most from preschool and kindergarten programs. Small class sizes are also essential to a quality education for children - especially at the elementary school level and even more important for students with a variety of problems.
As a high school guidance counselor during the last 13 years of my 37 year public school career, I witnessed firsthand the value of offering vocational education. This, in my opinion, is the single most important factor in lowering the dropout rate and increasing graduation rates.
However, instead of funding these programs in public schools, the school voucher program sends that money to schools that do not have to take all students and are not held to the same high standards set for Indiana public schools. Therefore, both the students who attend these private schools and those left in the public schools suffer.
You can go down in history as the Indiana Governor who stood up for quality public school education or the Indiana Governor who was complicit in destroying our public school system. It is your choice.
Reba Boyd Wooden, Executive Director
Center for Inquiry-Indiana
The Center for Inquiry is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that encourages evidence-based inquiry into science, pseudoscience, medicine and health, religion, ethics, and society. Through education, research, publishing, and social services, it seeks to present affirmative alternatives based on scientific naturalism.
The mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.