In the Daily, Reihan Salam imagines a brilliant future for Indiana governor Mitch Daniels’s education reform bill that would make more than half the schoolkids in Indiana eligible for a school voucher:
Vouchers aren’t a panacea. A child’s home environment will always have a bigger impact on her success than her school environment, and there’s only so much we can do to change that. There are other good cost-saving ideas, like Daniels’s plan to give high schoolers who graduate a year early $3,500 in college aid – which would cost the state about $2,400 less than keeping a smart kid cooped up for senior year.
But well-designed vouchers will encourage the proliferation of new kinds of schools that can better meet the needs of today’s students, including those most at risk of dropping out. The hope is that the most successful schools will expand while the least successful will have to close up shop. Eventually, more flexible vouchers will allow students in public schools to choose to take certain courses, like advanced math or Mandarin, from low-cost virtual schools. Over time, the state education authorities will spend more time monitoring the quality of a wide variety of competing high-tech instructional providers than they spend running obsolete factory schools of their own. And we’ll have Mitch Daniels to thank.
The bill has passed the assembly and is headed for Daniels’s desk. It would be by far the most expansive voucher program in the country.
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