What is the history of school choice in Fort Wayne?
The School Choice Scholarship Program began in Indiana – and Fort Wayne – in the spring of 2011. The program allows students from low- to middle-income families to receive scholarships from the state to attend private schools. In the past, most students from low-income households were only able to attend public schools because private school tuition was out of reach. Private schools typically did everything they could to raise dollars to financially assist these families, but funds were limited. Indiana’s school choice programs empower parents to choose the school that is best for their student and their family. The Fort Wayne/Allen County area currently has nearly 30 private schools participating in the program. Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program is the largest statewide program in the nation.
What options are available to Fort Wayne families?
All the Fort Wayne area Catholic and Lutheran schools, both elementary and high schools, participate in the Choice Scholarship Program. In addition, several independent private schools can also be options for families. Participating schools must meet state qualifications and complete an application process to be eligible to receive Choice Scholarship funding. For information on participating schools, contact Jenny Andorfer at Bishop Luers High School (260) 456-1261 ext. 3139.
How do these options benefit our community and economy?
When families are empowered to choose, they are able to access the options they need for their children as well as benefiting the community. Research also has shown that when private school choice programs are in place, public schools tend to perform better – in part because they know that families have more than one choice. Schools in the choice program are in many ways held to a higher standard than public schools, which creates transparency for families who are seeking to find the best fit. The bottom line: school choice parents are hardworking members of the Fort Wayne community – teachers, nurses, firefighters, small business owners and more – and when they are satisfied with their educational options, our entire community is lifted up.
What should families look for in a school?
Families seeking a choice for their child’s education should choose a school that best meets the needs of the student. Each student and family has specific educational needs and not every school meets those needs. The philosophy behind the School Choice Program is that parents should be able to decide which school is best, regardless of cost, location or other factors. Some private schools provide more one-to-one attention or specific special education programs, while others promote faith-based environments or smaller class sizes. Families need to know that they are in the driver’s seat when it comes to finding the right school and they should ask many questions as they engage in the selection process.
Why is it important that families have choices?
We have choice in so many aspects of our lives, but it is often missing when it comes to K-12 education. Families should not be limited in their education choices because of their income or where they live. All parents deserve the right to choose the best education for their children: an education that supports parental goals, objectives and morals.
How has school choice grown in the Fort Wayne area?
Roughly 20 percent of Fort Wayne Community Schools students are making the choice to attend either a non-zoned public school, charter school or private school. At Bishop Luers High School, a school located in a lower economic area, the program has seen substantial growth since the Choice Scholarship program started. In 2012, Bishop Luers enrolled 56 students in the Choice Program out of 3,900 statewide. Currently, 358 students at Bishop Luers receive a School Choice Scholarship to attend private school out of approximately 35,000 statewide.
Address: 333 E. Paulding Road Fort Wayne, Indiana 46816
Phone: (260) 456-1261