Oaks Academy: Vouchers May Not Be a Panacea But They Are Really Working For Some Families

Barato Britt:

True advocates of choice through vouchers shouldn’t suggest vouchers to be the panacea, the proverbial be all end all for education in our nation, no matter how much our President or Education Secretary maintain this assertion.

Vouchers, like all educational options, are one means through which we provide students and families the ability to choose their child’s school, free from arbitrary designations or systems that have for too long demonstrated an inability to serve all students.

While most supporters, generally conservative folks, use phrases like “free market” to bolster the case, vouchers are liberal, almost socialist in nature, when considered from a means tested standpoint with the mission of providing poor families with the same options that wealthier families already enjoy.

Nearly 35,000 Hoosier students today can boast direct access to the private school of theirs and their parent’s choice as a result of this program. And while that number is dwarfed by the nearly 1.05 million Hoosier students in a public school, there is evidence that suggests this effort has not been fought in vain.

Such is the case for 373 students who, through vouchers and Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) opportunities, are being blessed by the opportunity to attend The Oaks Academy. An unabashedly faith based institution, Oaks affords students a high quality classical education, complemented by a commitment to follow students as they matriculate to and through post-secondary opportunities. Based in Indianapolis Near East Side, the school has grown from 53 students in 1998 to 732 students in grades Pre-K through 8th grade, on three campuses purposely housed within close proximity of one another.

Academically, school data bear out the contention for its distinction as a high-quality school. Oaks Academy students are consistently among the state’s top performers on standardized assessments, with 82.2 percent passing both the Language Arts and Math portions of the ISTEP last year.

The schools’ 300 alumni who are tracked carefully after graduation, and the school has determined its 4-year college matriculation rate to be 87 percent.

Additionally, parental involvement is not optional for all Oaks Families, but mandatory as a caring, committed adult must participate in various activities during the admissions cycle and school year to ensure all stakeholders have skin in the game.