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Indiana, Tennessee Pass Voucher Bills

Indiana and Tennessee to offer poor families money to attend private schools.

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Indiana passed the country's most extensive school voucher program bill that would provide a subsidy to parents who want to send their children to private schools.

Instead of doling out tax money to public schools, some would be reserved for scholarships to private schools for families of four or more who make less than $60,000 a year. The bill is expected to be signed by Republican Governor Mitch Daniels this week and would pay up to 90 percent of private school tuition, depending on how much money a student's family makes.

The program would be open to 7,500 students next year and 15,000 students in its second year.

Indiana joins many states in considering expanded voucher programs. Late last week, Tennessee's state Senate passed a similar bill that would allow poor families in counties surrounding Memphis to send their children to private schools. In Washington, D.C., Congress reauthorized a voucher program that allows low-income families to send their students to private schools.

In Ohio, vouchers are more popular than ever—for the second year in a row, there were more applicants for vouchers than were available. Lawmakers in Wisconsin are also considering expanding a voucher program in Milwaukee.

Proponents of voucher programs say that putting private and public schools in direct competition encourages public schools to improve and operate with greater efficiency—saving for states in a budget crisis.

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