Broadest Voucher Plan In US Moves To Daniels' Desk

Bill Large Part Of Daniels' Education Reform Plan

Lawmakers have approved a bill creating the country's broadest private school voucher system, handing Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels a huge victory in his aggressive education agenda as he considers a 2012 presidential run.

The Republican-controlled House voted 55-43 Wednesday to approve a voucher plan that would allow even middle-class families to use taxpayer money to send their children to private schools.

“Our children will thrive in a system that provides quality options to all students regardless of their ZIP code or how much money is in the family bank account," said Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett in a news release. "Indiana is now at the forefront of a national movement that demands all children receive the academic tools necessary for success.”

The plan is the most controversial part of a Daniels' sweeping education agenda that also includes merit pay for teachers, restrictions on teacher collective bargaining and expanded charter schools.

“This General Assembly has placed the interests of Hoosier kids first and placed Indiana first among the states in reforming and improving public education," Daniels said in a news release. "Their political courage and their commitment to a great education for every single child deserve the thanks not just of parents but of every citizen. Indiana has a far brighter future because of them.”

The successes come as Daniels prepares to declare whether he'll run for the White House. The governor has said he'll announce his decision sometime after the legislative session ends Friday.