(Reuters) – The Indiana Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously upheld the nation’s broadest school voucher program, which gives poor and middle-class families public funds to help pay private school tuition.
Opponents, including the state teachers’ union, had sued to block the program on grounds that nearly all the voucher money has been directed to religious schools.
Voucher systems have drawn criticism across the United States from critics who say they drain money from public schools and subsidize overtly religious education. Supporters say they offer families greater choice on where to educate their children.
In a 5-0 vote, the Indiana justices said that it did not matter that funds had been directed to religious schools, so long as parents – and not the state – decide where to use the tuition vouchers.
“Whether the Indiana program is wise educational or public policy is not a consideration,” Chief Justice Brent Dickson wrote. The program is constitutional, he wrote, because the public funds “do not directly benefit religious schools but rather directly benefit lower-income families with school children.”