The Indiana governor's voucher plan is controversial, but at worst will give us valuable data on the conservative approach to fixing schools
Is the school voucher plan just signed into law by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels going to improve education in his state? It's an ambitious experiment:
The plan is based on a sliding income scale, with families of four making more than $60,000 qualifying for some level of scholarship if they switch from public to private schools... Other voucher systems across the country are limited to lower-income households, children with special needs or those in failing schools. Indiana's program would be open to a much larger pool of students, including those already in excellent schools... within three years, there will be no limit on the number of children who could enroll.
I have no idea whether or not this is going to work. But I am thrilled that Indiana is trying it. Nationwide, 40 percent of registered voters and almost half of parents with school-aged children favor this policy, and it is one of the few education reform ideas consistently advanced by one of our two political parties. More importantly, two-thirds of Hoosiers supported the idea in a January poll.
This is as good as it gets if you believe that states should sometimes function as laboratories of democracy. Indiana voters get what they want, and the rest of us benefit from seeing how it works out on a larger scale than has ever been tried before. It's also heartening that Gov. Daniels is hedging his bets by trying to improve the public school system. His broader education agenda is outlined in this presentation, given at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.