The public schools enroll 1,047,000 students: 71% White, 12% African American, and 10% Latino, with 49% living in poverty, and 5% learning English. The State spends $9,421 per pupil. (Most recent NCES data)
“Knowledge and learning, generally diffused throughout a community, being essential to the preservation of a free government; it should be the duty of the General Assembly to encourage, by all suitable means, moral, intellectual, scientific, and agricultural improvement, and to provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all.” Ind. Const. art. 8, § 1.
“No preference shall be given, by law, to any creed, religious society, or mode of worship; and no person shall be compelled to attend, erect, or support, any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry, against his consent.” Ind. Const. art. 1, § 4.
“No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution.” Ind. Const. art. 1, § 6.
In 2009, the Indiana Supreme Court dismissed Bonner v. Daniels, holding that “the Education Clause of the Indiana Constitution does not impose upon government an affirmative duty to achieve any particular standard of resulting educational quality. This determination is delegated to the sound legislative discretion of the General Assembly. And in the absence of such a constitutional duty, there is no basis for the judiciary to evaluate whether it has been breached.”
In 2011, plaintiffs filed Meredith v. Pence, alleging that the State law establishing a voucher program violated articles 1 and 8 in the State constitution. The Indiana Supreme Court denied these claims, holding that the system of Common Schools continued to function, and religious K-12 schools were not “religious or theological institutions” under the constitution.