By Samm Quinn
INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill into law Thursday that will expand the state’s school voucher program in front of 150 students, including some who already are benefiting from the program.
Students from seven different private vouchers schools met at the Calvary Christian School auditorium with signs that said, “I yearn to learn” and “school choice now.”
Calvary Christian School Principal Charles Barcus said Pence came to the school before he was governor to talk about the importance of school choice in Indiana.
“This man standing next to me, our governor, has not only become governor but he has been a man of his word,” he said.
House Bill 1003 expands the state’s choice scholarship program to allow students with special needs and siblings of current voucher students and students to qualify. It also allows children living in low performing public school districts to receive a voucher without having to first meet the one-year public school requirement.
Currently there are 9,324 students attending private schools using state money through vouchers, and that number will grow, Pence said.
“Our Hoosier students deserve every opportunity to be successful,” Pence said. “That includes having the choice to attend the school that works best for them. Thanks to this legislation, Hoosier students and their families now have more educational options available to meet their individual needs. I applaud the General Assembly for their commitment to quality education in Indiana.”
He said signing the legislation into law is a great victory for Indiana families.
Opponents have complained the bill is expanding a two-year-old program that hasn’t been studied to determine its effectiveness. The legislation requires a study.
The governor also signed a bill that creates an additional option for teachers to insure themselves against professionally liability by creating a statewide insurance pool.
“Teachers should be able to focus on educating our kids without fear of defending themselves against frivolous lawsuits and incurring expensive legal fees out of their own pockets,” Pence said. “HEA 1334 creates a means for teachers to shield themselves against professional liability so they can concentrate on leading their classrooms and helping our children reach their highest potential.”
Samm Quinn is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.