Myths and realities about school choice

By the Indiana Non-Public Education Association 

Special to The Message

Although school choice was introduced in Indiana more than a decade ago, it continues to generate questions and debate. Here are some common misperceptions about school choice – along with the corresponding facts – provided by the Indiana Non-Public Education Association. 

MYTH: School choice drains money from public schools 

REALITY: School-choice programs across the country have been proven to save state governments millions – even billions – of dollars. When a student attends a non-public school using a Choice Scholarship (voucher), state governments do not have to pay the public school the full cost for providing an education for that student. 

In Indiana, the average voucher amount in the 2021-2022 school year was $5,439, while state funding for public schools amounted to $7,968 per student. 

Public schools receive local taxes for their operations; non-public schools do not receive those funds. Public schools also retain their local funding even if students transfer to a non-public school. 

MYTH: Choice does not lead to better academic outcomes for students. 

REALITY: Across Indiana, as students continue to recover from COVID-19 learning losses, non-public-school students outperformed their public-school peers on the 2022 I-LEARN state assessment. 

The National Assessment of Education Progress, more commonly known as the Nation’s Report Card, shows that nationally, Catholic school students have higher test scores in reading and math than their public-school peers in grades 4 and 8, the year that the assessment is administered. 

MYTH: School choice only benefits non-public schools. 

REALITY: The state of Indiana recognizes that parents should choose the school that provides the best educational opportunities and is the best overall fit for their children. In Indiana, the money flows to the student, not to the school. Families can choose to send their children to alternative public schools, charter schools, or non-public schools. 

MYTH: School-choice programs allow for discrimination.

REALITY: Nine out of 10 empirical studies reveal that choice programs lead to less segregation in schools. In Indiana, the population of students receiving vouchers is more diverse (43 percent minority) compared to traditional-public-school students (32 percent minority). 

MYTH: School-choice programs violate separation between church and state.

REALITY: In 2013, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled unanimously that school choice does not violate Indiana’s Constitution. Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that appropriately designed private-school-choice programs are fully Constitutional. 

For a complete list of school choice myths and realities, as well as additional information, visit