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Indiana Senate Passes School Voucher Bill

The Indiana Senate has approved a plan to create a statewide school voucher program.The Republican-led chamber voted 28-22 today to advance the bill, which is the most contentious part of GOP Governor Mitch Daniels’ extensive education agenda. The measure would allow parents whose children qualify for reduced or free lunches to receive tuition dollars from the state if they want to send the students to private schools. Supporters say it would provide families with more education options.All of the chamber’s 13 Democrats and nine Republicans voted against the measure, including Sen. Vaneta Becker of Evansville, who says it would siphon money from public schools."I just think that this is really bad public policy. I think we’re going down a slippery, slippery slope and unfortunately I think this whole piece of legislation and all of this education legislation is just based on someone’s ambition, and I think that’s unfortunate," she said.The program would be limited to a fraction of the state’s students; 7,500 the first year and 15,000 the second. Ohio is the only other state with a voucher program, although some cities have implemented the policy.The measure returns to the House to consider Senate changes.(Information for this story also came from the Associated Press)

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." Email Rick at rhowlett@lpm.org.