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Indiana's expansive school voucher program upheld: A model for others?

Indiana's school voucher program, which extends to middle-income families, does not 'directly benefit religious schools,' the state Supreme Court chief justice writes.

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Traditional public school supporters rally in the North Atrium of the Indiana Statehouse on March 19. The Indiana Supreme Court upheld the law creating the nation's broadest school voucher program tonight, clearing the way for a possible expansion.

Charlie Nye / The Indianapolis Star / AP

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The Indiana Supreme Court Tuesday unanimously upheld the state’s expansive school voucher program, which extends to middle-income families the opportunity to send their children to private schools with public assistance.

A coalition of teachers, parents, and union officials had challenged the voucher program as unconstitutional, saying it uses public money to promote religious education.

But Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Dickson wrote that whether or not the program is “wise educational or public policy,” it is constitutional because the state funds "do not directly benefit religious schools but rather directly benefit lower-income families with school children."

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The ruling is considered a precedent for other states that say parents should have greater choice in where their children attend school.

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