Indiana’s Republican state superintendent of public instruction, Jennifer McCormick, is proposing significant changes to the way her state handles its voucher program — specifically, she wants to ensure that private schools receiving public funds are no longer permitted to discriminate against LGBT students.
> "If our goal as a state is to develop a well-educated workforce, and one that we want businesses to come here because we're inclusive, we are accepting. I think part of that goes to our actions," McCormick said.
> "And when we still have schools that receive taxpayer dollars that can exclude students — that's a problem."
> The state schools chief acknowledged that such a policy would require the state to control, at least in part, the admissions policies of private schools; something the Republican-controlled Legislature has been loath to do since establishing the voucher program in 2011.
But McCormick said the current setup is “a little bit antiquated” and that the state’s children are ill-served by "the notion that you can't send a child, that takes taxpayer monies, to a school because they identify as LGBT."
> McCormick's willingness to challenge traditional Hoosier Republican education policies likely is related in part to her decision, announced last week, not to seek re-election in 2020, and to end her service as the state schools chief after just one term.
> She said scheming by some House and Senate Republicans, and certain education interest groups, to have the position of state superintendent become governor-appointed in 2021, instead of 2025 as current law requires, led her to decide that she can best help children from another position.
> McCormick also attributed her decision to the structure of educational governance in Indiana, particularly how much of the authority of her elected position and the Department of Education has been shifted by state lawmakers to the un-elected State Board of Education.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said he needs to “digest” McCormick’s plans before offering comment on them.
> "I look forward to working with her," Holcomb said. "I reminded her that we have more time left in this term than we've been here, and there's still plenty to be accomplished."
> The governor declined to specifically address McCormick's proposal to require private schools that accept state tax dollars for student tuition to not discriminate against LGBT students.
> "I'll digest it first before I weigh in," Holcomb reiterated. "But I will have an opinion."