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Opening Arguments

The new homeless

The fight over closing the Indiana Soldiers' and Sailors' Children's Home always seemed to be about money. The facility was aging, the enrollment was shrinking, and spending millions a year on the place, it was argued, didn't make a lot of sense. The state didn't really respond to the arguments of home supporters, who said it was much more effective for troubled youth than the dismal foster-care system or those mythical community-based solutions that are always promised. 

But it turns out that, once the kids are kicked out, the state has another use for the grounds after all -- relocation of a boot-camp style academy run by the Indiana National Guard for high school dropouts. This has some people perplexed:

And supporters questioned why the state says the Knightstown property could be renovated for $2 million for the Challenge Academy but had projected costs of $60 million for the children's home.

Part of the answer seems to be that the state can get federal money for the Guard academy that it can't for the home (heck of a justification for a supposedly conservative state). But that doesn't explain why the state can't house both programs on the grounds, since it is big enough. There must be some philosophical reason to support one program but not the other.

But don't they both deal with "troubled" youths in an institutional setting? And couldn't it be argued that dealing with such kids when they are younger would keep them from developing into troubled older youths who drop out of school and need a Challenge Academy?

The governor should explain this one better. So far, he doesn't come off looking very good.