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Walton grant aims to double the number of vouchers nationally

The Walton Family Foundation will give $6 million to the Alliance for School Choice, a group that advocates and lobbies for school voucher programs in states around the country, including Indiana, the foundation announced Tuesday.

The goal of the investment is to double the number of students who use vouchers to attend private schools. The Alliance for School Choice says that approximately 300,000 students, including more than 20,000 Hoosiers, currently use vouchers to attend private schools.

The Walton Family Foundation, which was created by the family of Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, has invested in other education-related programs in indiana and nationwide. The Washington Post reports that this donation will double the resources of the Alliance for School Choice. (The Walton Family Foundation is a funder Chalkbeat.)

Voucher programs have been hotly debated in Indiana and elsewhere. Supporters of vouchers say the program offers a choice to parents of students who are not happy with their child’s public school. Critics question the effectiveness of voucher programs and say they drain resources from regular public schools. Some also question the use of publicly-funded vouchers in religiously-affiliated private schools schools.

Most research on vouchers has not indicated that students’ academic performance improves after receiving a voucher. In Indiana, where the state’s 2011 voucher law made more children eligible than in most states, the program has seen rapid growth. The state now ranks second largest after Wisconsin.

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