School Choice News from Indiana and Tennessee Should Brighten Your Monday

Being a Monday and all, I thought you might appreciate a little good news on the school choice front. So let’s head quickly to our nation’s Heartland, first to see my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow‘s new offering for School Reform News on the state of Hoosier State’s Choice Scholarship Program:

Scarcely more than a year old, Indiana’s voucher program has grown in popularity, sent an extra $4 million to public schools, and yielded clear evidence of taxpayer savings.

With Governor Mitch Daniels and Superintendent Tony Bennett at the helm, Indiana has really taken the reins of education reform and run forward with it. Just one year old, the private school choice program already is the nation’s largest, and two years from now there will be no cap on enrollment for choice scholarships. Most interesting, though, from the article is what’s beginning to bubble up:

Hiner says Indiana’s nascent choice program also has spurred movement toward expanding private education into new areas to meet student needs. Talk of new school creation has centered around models outside the traditionally successful networks of Catholic and Lutheran schools.

“It is encouraging that people are having these conversations,” said [Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice state programs director Leslie] Hiner. “Much of that is very parent-driven.”

Scratching my head, I have to wonder if Indiana might be the first to address the “greenfield problem” for school choice programs to which I brought your attention on Friday. Or maybe in the true spirit of competition, it could be Louisiana or Florida… or Colorado? Well, there is the Douglas County Choice Scholarships, which is similar to Indiana’s one-year-old program but currently tied up in the courts.

But it’s Monday, and I’m focused on good news about school choice. So I thought you’d like to see the headline from another state, Tennessee, where lawmakers expect a voucher bill to pass next year. Not surprising, the news follows closely on the heels of a survey release showing about 60 percent of Tennessee voters support vouchers.

If you still aren’t smiling, well, at least it’s not my fault anymore….