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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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School vouchers evaluation guide gets quick OK

Despite differing opinions on whether school vouchers are a good practice, voting members decided quickly and decisively to approve a social policy resolution that provides a process to evaluate individual voucher proposals.

After a 30-minute debate, a 717-265 vote put in place the guide developed for ELCA public policy advocacy offices nationwide. It will offer "guidance and a process to participate in a discussion whenever and wherever" vouchers are proposed, said Charles Miller, executive director of the Division for Church in Society, who introduced the proposal that was co-sponsored by the Division for Higher Education and Schools.

The questions aim to determine if a specific voucher proposal will boost educational prospects for children living in poverty and if it will help reach several goals, including support for public schools, allowing church schools to maintain their religious mission, and ensuring ways to evaluate the results of a voucher program.

Supporting the resolution, Larry Hill, Western Iowa Synod, a school superintendent, said, "I'm anti-voucher, but pro process ... and this is a good process to discuss voucher plans in a civil way."

Rich Meier, Northern Illinois Synod, also voiced support because of the process the resolution offers. He said his congregation has a kindergarten through sixth-grade school of 210 students that is a "great source of evangelism," but added he has concerns about the forms of restraint on religious schools that could be in some voucher plans.


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