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Indiana public schools wage ad campaign against vouchers

Promotion » Districts try to keep parents from moving their kids to private schools.

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School staff members have gone to the homes of students who switched to private schools last year or who dropped out and asked them to come back. The district is touting its magnet schools, teaching methods that include Montessori and Reggio and a performing arts and visual arts school.

Ramon Batts, director of an alternative program at Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis, estimates 10 percent to 20 percent of the voucher parents he has talked to showed an interest in returning to public school.

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Philip and Cheresa Covington haven’t been swayed. They pulled their seventh-grader out of public school because his language-immersion program promised more than it delivered. The Indianapolis schools are underfunded and understaffed, Cheresa Covington said, and the teachers "horribly, horribly overworked."

This year, their son will use a voucher worth $4,500 at a small private school in downtown Indianapolis called the Todd Academy. Annual tuition is $9,850.

Other parents, though, are willing to stay put.

Mikila Cook took her now 13-year-old daughter, Bailey, out of Fort Wayne schools three years ago to attend a charter school, thinking she would be in a smaller class and get more attention. After five weeks, she found her daughter was in a bigger classroom. So she moved her back to public school.

Cook won’t be seeking any private school vouchers for her kids.

"I wouldn’t take them out of Fort Wayne Community Schools for any reason at this point," Cook said. "I feel very confident in their ability to educate my children."

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