Parents should have a financial stake in education

From a letter to the editor in the March 13 Herald-Times criticizing private school vouchers, the author writes this about textbook rental fees:

Public education has never been fully funded in Indiana as parents pay out of pocket for their child’s curriculum.

This leads to what ought to be an obvious question: Why shouldn’t parents have a financial stake in their own children’s education? Why is it expected that the state will pay for the child’s textbooks? Ultimately, I am responsible for my children, not state government.

This is not to say there should not be assistance for families who need it. For some families, this is a genuine financial hardship and those children still need to be able to follow along and keep up with the class. However, I fail to see why it is wrong to expect parents to contribute financially for textbooks. We already do that with clothes, lunches and school supplies. What makes textbooks special?

As to vouchers themselves, I maintain that there should not be vouchers for private schools. As a graduate of a private Christian school, I was thankful for the school’s independence from government control. Once you take government money, you accept the strings that are attached to that money. People have been clamoring for years to tie vouchers to “non-discrimination” policies, meaning that Christian schools would not be allowed to require teachers to be Christians or uphold the moral standards required by Scripture.

A better solution would be tax credits. If a family opts out of the traditional government school system, they would get a stipend to spend as they see fit. This removes private schools from under potential government control. This would also benefit parents who home school, as they are left out of the discussion over vouchers. Since home schooling has expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic, it makes sense to move away from a voucher model to tax credits instead to benefit more Hoosiers.