I publish a monthly article in the Indianapolis Business Journal. I can write about any topic, but I always choose to write about public education. Read my September 2018 article on vouchers in Indiana.

Scrutiny of private-school vouchers is long overdue

I recently attended one of the annual meetings for the Indiana Coalition for Public Education (ICPE).  The ICPE is a bi-partisan non-profit organization. Its mission is to focus public tax dollars on the K-12 education of public school students by opposing legislation in the Indiana General Assembly that would fund private school vouchers, expand private school tax credits, privatize charter schools by allowing private colleges and agencies to be authorizers, put for-profit managers in place to take a profit from operating public schools and privatize public schools through any other means.

It’s no secret that I am, and will continue to be, opposed to the use of taxpayer dollars for private school education.  I was one of the twelve Indiana plaintiffs in the 2011 Indiana Supreme Court case challenging the Choice Scholarship Program.  The ruling upheld the scholarship program because the funding goes through the families to the school of choice, and not directly to the private school.  The program was carefully crafted to be a “scholarship” as opposed to a voucher to hold up in court, but the families do not see the money.  It moves from the Indiana Department of Education on behalf of families to the schools.  

Each year, the General Assembly expands the ways that private schools can receive taxpayer dollars (at the expense of proper funding for our public schools).  More schemes are explored to privatize our public schools and more for-profit entities vie for our legislators’ attention with political contributions towards their re-election campaigns as they seek legislative action that will make it easier for them to operate in Indiana.

Religion plays a part in this Choice Scholarship Program, too.  Over 95% of Choice schools in Indiana are religious schools.  From the beginning, I believe that the Choice Scholarship Program in Indiana has been about financially saving many religious schools from closing their doors.  These religious institutions can now prosper, receiving public tax dollars for selecting the low-income students that meet their entrance requirements, AND continuing to charge private tuition.

Public Education is underfunded, and has been, since Governor Daniels removed over $300 million from our public school districts that were never recovered and built upon in the following years.  Over a million students attend public schools in our state with families having school choice among our public schools (including public charters).  The state’s responsibility is to adequately fund and support our public schools.  However, the 2017-18 Choice Scholarship report indicates that the state spent $151 million of taxpayer money to educate 35,458 students in 318 private schools.  This is money that could be going to our public schools. 

In fact, the Choice Scholarship Program has never been evaluated.  Hoosiers should demand that our lawmakers scrutinize the impact of this program that has been in effect for seven years.  The General Assembly should pause on any further expansion of the program in order to complete a thorough evaluation of the Choice Scholarship Program. The study should include the long-term effects of the voucher program by examining its impact on academic achievement, diversity, and public school funding.

Glenda Ritz

President & CEO Advancing Public Schools, LLC

Former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction

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Recently, I've been sharing the work of Advancing Public Schools with leaders of school districts and nonprofits that serve children. During our conversations, I've been gleaning student support practices to share with the Public School community.

In our first newsletter, I have highlighted a few programs that are making a real difference in their communities.

  • At Warsaw Community Schools in Warsaw, IN, administrators have ensured that all students in their rural community have access to the Internet.
  • Girl Scouts of the USA have taken a keen interest in building the STEM skills of young girls.

Each month, I'll highlight programs like these to draw attention to the great work being done on behalf of students. Our team is working on your behalf to connect schools and community programs to each other to provide needed supports for our students. 

Public education should be a public conversation - start a conversation with us below and share with us what you are doing in your school community.


Spotlight on Student Support:
Online Connectivity

Warsaw Community Schools (WCS) has been working to ensure that all students have access to the Internet. 

Access to the Internet is essential to promote opportunities for research and collaboration with peers outside of school hours. 90% of the 7,000 students at WCS have access to high speed Internet access.  However, that means that as many as 700 students do not have access to these critical educational opportunities.  The district is pursuing several solutions to the problem. 

First, the district has purchased some mobile hot spot units that can be checked out by students from the middle school and high school libraries.  These units create a wifi bubble and connect the student to a filtered, cellular Internet connection, allowing them to complete their educational activities. 

Next, the district has created a business partners program.  These businesses will display signage to let students know that they can use their free wifi networks to complete their homework. 

Finally, the district has expanded their own wifi networks beyond the school walls to create wifi bubbles of Internet access in their school parking lots.  

Though these measures are helping to address the problem, the clear solution is continuing to develop high speed Internet infrastructure and service to our rural communities.  Contact your state legislators to urge them to provide this support to your students and families.


Community Spotlight: 
Girl Scouts of the USA

Recently, Girl Scouts of the USA focused its attention on addressing the need for girls to have more exposure to STEM in the classroom.

Research shows that girls begin steering away from pursuing STEM at an early age. In an effort to engage more girls in STEM at an early age Girl Scouts collaborated with tech-related groups including Society of Women Engineers, Code.org, SciStarter, and GoldieBlox, to develop 23 new badge activities focusing on STEM and outdoor education. 


The STEM-focused badge activities, in conjunction with the comprehensive Girl Scout Leadership Experience, provide a girls-only environment where they can feel comfortable trying new things, taking appropriate risks, and learning from failure.

A recent survey, The Girl Scout Impact Study shows that Girl Scouts are almost twice as likely as non-Girl Scouts to participate in STEM, earn better grades, aspire to graduate from college, and are more likely to seek a career in STEM.

Public schools can partner with Girl Scouts to provide meeting space for this after-school experience and help Girl Scouts invite girls to join. To learn more about opportunities with the Girl Scouts in your area, enter your zipcode on their Troop Finder page.

Welcome Back to School!

Welcome back to school!

As a Public School Board member, I know you choose to serve your community to provide the best educational opportunities for your students. The task is daunting in today’s climate of limited resources.  

At Advancing Public Schools, we believe that now is the best time to uncover how you can use your influence and develop community connections to get supports for your students. Identifying your district’s support system gaps is the first crucial step to improving service for your students.

Let’s work together to advance our public schools by utilizing our process that is efficient, comprehensive, and personalized.

To learn more and keep up to date with the latest promising practices, sign up for our monthly newsletter.  Our one-page newsletter will begin in late September to provide you with valuable insight and assistance in your role as school board members.

We need to share what works and make public school engagement our priority. Have a great start to the school year!

Glenda Ritz

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