Vouchers not just for the poor

The Indiana Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the nation’s broadest school voucher program, a ruling supporters say could set a national precedent and encourage other states to expand such programs.

Nevada lawmakers should pay attention. Voucher programs create competition for the bureaucracy-choked public schools, requiring them to improve or watch their once-captive students flee, taking much of their taxpayer funding with them.

Vouchers also will encourage greater competition for the best teachers, funding the growth of new schools that have to advertise educational excellence in a new, more competitive environment — and pay for the talent to provide it. Tell a talented young teacher she “has to do it the way it’s always been done”? Not if the innovator down the street is hiring.

In a 5-0 vote, the Indiana justices rejected claims that the law primarily benefited religious institutions that run private schools, ruling the main beneficiaries are instead parents thus provided with wide school choice.

The Indiana plan, enacted in 2011, has received national attention because the program has wide eligibility. It’s open to parents with household incomes of up to $64,000 for a family of four, while in most states such programs have been limited to low-income families or those in desperately bad schools.

Officials in Indiana’s tax-funded schools say they fear the loss of thousands of students, especially from the middle class, along with the state money attached to their enrollment.

Good. Endlessly rearranging and re-naming the deck chairs is one thing; having to show results or see your building auctioned off can clarify the decision to go back to phonics amazingly.

The decision “will be incredibly influential,” predicts Bert Gall, senior attorney for the Washington-based Institute for Justice, which helped defend the Indiana law.

Competition is coming to education. And employers will go where the schools turn out agile kids who are on fire to achieve. Nevada can get on board or watch the parade pass by.

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