INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WLFI) - For about 500 protesters at the Indiana State House the rallying cry was 'Education Reform Rocks'.
The pro-education reform voice is one that hasn't really been heard until now at the Indiana State House. Ralliers Wednesday are hoping to see bills passed that would allow vouchers for students, and more support for charter schools. Lafayette Diocese Superintendent, Dr. Marie Williams, attended the rally and said she supports the vouchers. She said vouchers are really just a way to open up more education options. Williams said many may be uncomfortable now with vouchers because education in Indiana is going through a transition phase.
"I would hope that incrementally we could agree on some ways to make it so more parents have the option to choose the schools that they want," said Williams.
For legislators the issue has caused major rifts this session. The voucher, or 'opportunity scholarship' bill, along with various charter school bills, were just some of the pieces of legislation Democrats cited for their extended walk-out.
Republican Representative Randy Truitt said seeing the benefit of vouchers could be difficult for some in the Lafayette and West Lafayette areas.
"It's hard for individuals like myself that come from districts where we are meeting the needs and we are delivering what it is we're supposed to be delivering to our kids. But trying to figure out how to balance that with what other areas of the state need," said Truitt.
The legislation for voucher bills has been one of the most debated this legislative session. Some of the amendments that have been made to the bill so far include lowering the income requirement for eligible families, and implementing caps on the amount of 'scholarships' that can be awarded. While local legislators said they have vetted, discussed, and amended the voucher bill many have said they will not be changing their stance.
"The voucher bill has changed, but I still think many of us have worries about passing a bill that gives public money to private schools," said Democratic House Representative Sheila Klinker.
"I am going to vote to keep the bill moving forward, to keep it moving in that direction. And then wait for the bill to come back from the Senate for the real vote at the end," said Truitt.
The voucher bill will go onto the Indiana Senate next for amendments and votes, it must than proceed to one final vote, before being made into law.
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