Monday, November 7, 2011

Media Misses Mark on Indiana Voucher Coverage

News last week that Indiana's Choice Scholarship Program enrolled nearly 4,000 students, the most ever by a first-year voucher program, was met with mixed coverage from media outlets across the Hoosier State.

Some newspapers attempted to hear arguments from people on both sides of the debate, others showed the objective success of the enrollment numbers, while others enlisted help of wire services that stick to the hard news aspects of the story.

The story on television, however, was not quite as balanced. Local Lafayette, IN news station WLFI TV gave coverage to the story when the enrollment numbers were released last Thursday, but only seemed to find time to interview those who complained of the money their districts were losing as a result of those kids getting a better education. Take a look at the video:

Putting aside the fact that their only interview is with a member of the education establishment (and there is no response from any reform-affiliated entity), they fail to point out the flaw in the argument made by Ed Eiler, the Lafayette School Corp. Superintendent.

Eiler decries the voucher program because it caused students to leave the district, thereby leaving the district with less money. But while there's correlation (i.e. the voucher program was instituted and students did leave Lafayette's district), there's only partial causation: while certainly some kids did leave their struggling schools for greener pastures, some left as a result of the continued slow process of improvement among their public schools.

The Indianapolis Star smartly grasps both points:
It's true that vouchers enabled more than 350 students this year to leave behind Indianapolis Public Schools. But IPS typically loses about 1,000 students a year, most of whom flee to suburban township districts. IPS administrators like to blame the district's problems on charters and now private schools that accept vouchers. The reality, however, is that many families see the need to grasp any option they can -- traditional public schools, charters or vouchers -- to avoid sending their children to IPS.
Read the rest of the paper's intelligent take here, and check out various stories from recent days to get a more full picture of the impact vouchers have had on Indiana families.

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MAG

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