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Education choice analysis pegs Indiana No. 3

By Steve Bittenbender

Indiana earned high marks in a new study that ranked states based on their performance in giving families more control over their children’s educational opportunities.

The Hoosier State was one of three receiving an “A” grade in the American Legislative Exchange Council’s 2023 Index of Education Freedom. Only Florida and Arkansas scored higher overall in the report, which was released last week.

The index replaces the council’s Report Card on American Education, which it used to grade states on various metrics. In a statement, Andrew Handel said the new report comes after the COVID-19 pandemic forced leaders across the country to rethink how students are educated and where they should receive instruction.

“More importantly, the pandemic sparked a national realization that our current ‘one-size-fits-all’ system of public education simply does not work for too many students,” Handel said. “While there are plenty of students who perform at their highest level in their local public schools, there are also many who would perform better in an alternate educational environment. Parents are best positioned to know where and how their children learn best, so we must empower them with as many educational choices as possible.”

ALEC awarded Indiana an A in three of the five scoring categories: charter schools, funding and financing, and homeschooling. While it received a “C” for virtual school, Indiana’s score of 12 was tied with nine states for fourth-best overall. The state also earned a B for its open enrollment policies.

The index was based on programs and policies signed into law as of June, so it factors the budget approved by the Indiana General Assembly in late April. That spending plan expanded voucher eligibility to cover families making up to 400% of the threshold for free or reduced school lunches. That move makes 97% of Indiana’s students eligible for private school education vouchers.

Indiana topped its neighboring states in the ALEC report. Michigan, which was ranked 16th, and Ohio, which was 23rd, both received a C. Kentucky’s 30th place finish earned it a D, while Illinois at 39th was one of 13 states to get a failing grade.

Overall, Florida earned the highest score in the report, while Rhode Island and Massachusetts received the lowest.

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