School Voucher Expansion in the Works for Years - WBAY

School Voucher Expansion in the Works for Years

Updated:

The push to expand school choice across Wisconsin has been in the works for years.

Wisconsin was the first state to test such a program more than two decades ago in Milwaukee.

This school year, more than 24,000 Milwaukee Public School students have a taxpayer voucher, playing for private school.

Governor Walker's proposal would expand it to nine more districts statewide.

 Jim Bender is president of School Choice Wisconsin, a Milwaukee based non-profit targeting just that.

"In a perfect world, we'd have a statewide program where it wouldn't really matter if you're in a private school, a charter school, a public school," Bender said in a recent interview with Action 2 News. "The money's following the child."

The Governor's proposal qualifies districts with at least 4,000 students and at least two schools receiving a D or F on the new state report cards monitored by the Department of Public Instruction.

The districts which would be immediately eligible include Beloit, Fond du Lac, Green Bay, Kenosha, Madison, Sheboygan, Superior, Waukesha, and West Allis-West Milwaukee.

"It's easy to say well it's just the test, it's somebody else's fault, we're doing everything we can," Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said. "But that's just excuses. What I want are results."

The proposal will have an easier time passing the Republican-controlled Assembly.

But in the Senate, where Republicans have a three-vote majority, two leading Republicans are voicing concern.

"This is a backdoor assault on the property tax payer," Senate President Mike Ellis said. "And we're going to fight like hell to get it changed."

Ellis, along with Sen. Luther Olsen support public referendums in each district.

Governor Walker's proposal would make 500 students statewide eligible in the 2013-14 school year and increase to 1,000 student statewide in the 2014-15 school year.

In 2015 and beyond, there would be no cap.

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