Private school voucher enrollment up 8 percent, cost to taxpayers is $270 million

Enrollment in Wisconsin private school vouchers programs increased nearly 8 percent this year and cost state taxpayers $270 million, an increase of $25.5 million over last year, according to figures released Monday by the Department of Public Instruction. Across the three programs – Milwaukee, Racine and statewide – a total of 36,249 students received a voucher to attend one of the 238 participating private schools. This is an increase of 2,684 students and 29 schools across the three programs compared to the prior school year.

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Review exposes faults in Walton family study calling for more private charters

A new analysis strikes down a Walton Family Foundation report that supports expanded public funding of private charter schools. The National Education Policy Center says the Walton study is flawed and based on biased data. In fact, privately run charter schools in most cases fall behind public schools when it comes to student performance despite the fact that public schools are open to students of all backgrounds.

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Expansion of unproven, unaccountable private school vouchers harms public schools and raises taxes, analysis finds

School voucher programs – including the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP) – divert much-needed funding away from public schools when they are expanded, according to a new policy memo by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. In response to the report, WEAC President Ron Martin said, “If policymakers are really interested in improving education, they should invest in the public schools that serve all students.”

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Governor signs state budget, vetoes provision designed to help low-spending districts

The governor Thursday signed the state budget into law, after using his veto power on several provisions. The budget is a mixed bag for public schools. It represents a 6 percent increase in state funding for K-12 schools – the first public school increase in six years. But it continues the state’s practice of siphoning funds from public schools to subsidize private school tuition and upends teacher licensure rules. Also, the governor vetoed a provision designed to help low-spending districts.

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State budget sent to governor is a mixed bag; WEAC advocates for several vetoes

With the governor likely to act soon on a state budget that includes a funding increase at long last for public schools, WEAC members are pleased elected officials have responded to the public’s call to increase funding for public schools. And while educators are welcoming the positive aspects of the budget document, they are also advocating for several vetoes on provisions that do not serve students well.

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Legislative Update – September 14 – Assembly passes budget

The State Assembly passed the budget Wednesday, which now goes to the Senate on Friday. Read more and take this opportunity to contact your senators about the education issues that are important to you on WEAC’s Take Action Page.

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Special needs voucher expansion passes through committee, contact your elected officials now!

The state’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee today voted along party lines to expand the Special Needs Voucher Program as part of the state budget bill.  With state resources so tight for public schools, and the funding for special needs vouchers coming directly from local school districts, why would the Legislature move to reduce funding for public schools by about $3 million over what it already spends on private school tuition next year, when the governor didn’t even include this move in his original budget proposal?

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ALEC conference continues group’s focus on undermining public schools, Rep. Chris Taylor says

State Representative Chris Taylor, a Democrat from Madison, just got back from another American Legislative Exchange Council conference, and concluded: “The issue of the moment for ALEC is public education — that is, undermining it.” … “For ALEC, it is all about tearing down our public-school infrastructure so corporate privatization efforts can move in and make a buck,” she writes in a column published by The Progressive.

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NAACP calls for elimination of for-profit charter schools

In a highly anticipated report, the NAACP Wednesday called for elimination of for-profit charter schools and more equitable funding for all schools serving students of color. “No federal, state, or local taxpayer dollars should be used to fund for-profit charter schools, nor should public funding be sent from nonprofit charters to for-profit charter management companies,” the organization says in its report titled Quality Education for All: One School at a Time. “The widespread findings of misconduct and poor student performance in for-profit charter schools demand the elimination of these schools. Moreover, allowing for-profit entities to operate schools creates an inherent conflict of interest.”

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Legislative Update – July 27

An Assembly bill (AB-452) referred to the education committee would terminate Wisconsin’s voucher program, including special needs vouchers, and replace the achievement gap reduction program with an expansion of the SAGE program. Also, Wisconsin strikes an agreement for a massive Foxconn plant in Wisconsin, with the state providing tax credits totaling up to $3 billion over 15 years.

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