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There are many reasons why we are opposed to the expansion of private voucher schools in Wisconsin, but our main concern could be boiled down to equality and accountability.

Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed 2013-15 budget would allow the use of public tax dollars to fund private schools through the use of vouchers. It would expand the program to any school district with at least 4,000 students that has at least two schools that are designated as failing.

Under those standards, nine more school districts would fall into the voucher criteria. La Crosse — with two schools at or below the accountability score set by the state — is very close to falling into that category.

No one wants failing schools. We want all of our students — whether they attend public or private schools — to succeed. Parents should have the right — as they do now to  choose where they want to send their children.

But it’s counterintuitive to suggest that the way to improve public schools is to reduce their funding and transfer the money to private institutions, where there is no accountability and different standards. Diluting the strength of public education will not solve its weaknesses.

The state should actually spend more on public education. Updated budget figures that came in late last week show the state with an additional $500 million. A good chunk of that money should be reinvested in public education, since the last budget cut $1.6 billion in education funding, to the tune of $550 a student.

Public schools are subject to open-records laws and total transparency when it comes to spending. Private schools are not. Sending taxpayer dollars into a system that does not have to justify how it is being spent nor share specific results on testing standards is poor public policy.

The very nature of public schools makes them big-tent educators. Students from all walks of life — rich or poor, inner-city or rural, all cultural backgrounds and learning disabilities from the mild to severe — are entitled to a public education. If a student with a severe learning disability requires one-on-one help from an aide, that’s what is provided. Public schools are required to provide teachers or instructors who have specific training for special needs students. All public school teachers are licensed, which is not a requirement with all private schools.

Private schools have the right — even under vouchers — to not accept a child, for whatever reason. They also have the right to teach religious-based curriculum, which is often the reason why parents choose to send their children to those schools. Putting children into that setting who may resist religious-based learning can spoil that learning environment for the children who want to be there.

Wisconsin families already have plenty of school choices without an expansion of vouchers. Open enrollment allows families to enroll their children in other districts.

Vouchers were created in Wisconsin as a way to improve Milwaukee Public Schools in the 1990s. Even now we have little data to show whether those students do any better than those in the public schools.

Are there challenges with public education in Wisconsin? Of course there are. But we should not expand a system created for inner-city Milwaukee to the rest of the state when we’re not even sure if it works.

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Digital news editor

Digital news editor

(33) comments

retiredone

Tribune is wrong again, but they usually are. Public Education only improve when teachers are evaluated like professionals in the private sector are.

Opus

Teachers are evaluated. But, to move the point further....if a different evaluation system were in place, what would it look like? Who sets the standards? You? Me?

LAXTEA

You collectivists are funny. I love to watch you squirm when it is even suggested that failing government programs which you love should be accountable for their failings. It is really pathetic to witness.

Opus

This government program called "public education" is not failing. There are issues in some districts, so fix those. To just start giving away public dollars for some to attend a private school makes no sense at all.

pheasant

Go rent the Movie, 'Won't Back Down'?

LAXTEA

Government schools are most definitely "failing". Compare 12th grade standards now with 40 years ago and you'll see we are much worse off now. Especially with the technology we have now and the money we waste on it now. It's sad.

And there is no such thing as "public dollars" until the government gets a job. There is only privately earned money they steal from citizens.

Opus

What "standards" are you referring to? Children are still graduating and are still going to colleges or getting good paying jobs. They can read, do math, reason, etc. So tell us how the public schools are "failing"?

Redwall

The Tribune wrote: "There are many reasons why we are opposed to the expansion of private voucher schools in Wisconsin, but our main concern could be boiled down to equality and accountability."

Yes, so lets continue to force families who wish to attend private schools to pay tuition for their own children AND public school district taxes to pay for someone else's children. Sounds equitable to me.

Opus

"Yes, so lets continue to force families who wish to attend private schools to pay tuition for their own children AND public school district taxes to pay for someone else's children. Sounds equitable to me."
That's a silly argument, Redwall. No one is forcing families to send their children to a private school. It is their CHOICE to attend those schools and, therefore, is their CHOICE to pay the tuition fee. It's not about being equitable, its about what is right.

Redwall

Yes it is their choice...kinda goes along with the concept of a free country.

GrandpaS

It's a good, accurate, factual column. If a public school is broken, it CAN be fixed. Fix the building. Increase secuity. Hire more teachers. Start more after school projects to keep kids off the streets. All of those cost money, but all of them can be done. I went to private/parochial schools through high school, and I'm very happy with the education I got. But both the grade school and high school I attended were privately funded, and I really believe that's how it ought to be. Tax payers and the government should support public schools. Private organizations should support their private schools.

LAXTEA

There's where we have to part ways. Why should taxpayers fund other people's kids' educations? Isn't food more important to living than school? Maybe we should force taxpayers to pay for everyone's food? And you can't live in Wisconsin without a roof over your head. Maybe taxpayers should pay for everyone's house?

pheasant

You have to love this editorial by Rusty and his Government Employed Pals. or those with their hands on our Tax Dollars like WIPFLI. A Paper whose Mother Company is dying from failure to evolve with the times. And a local staff who has turned their heads to wrongs around us and walked from integrity and their professional responsibilities as not to stifle Ad Revenue to stay alive.

Now they want to comment omnisciently about Vouchers, and how they 'will' affect the future? LOL!

Here is the reason we should be offered Vouchers. Because it should be our 'Choice'.

Make sure you take the time and go rent the Movie, 'Won't back down'. With a cast and crew who you would not think would be in such a true statement about our school system. Well worth the time to watch.

pheasant

You have to love this editorial by Rusty and his Government Employed Pals. A Paper whose Mother Company is dying from failure to evolve with the times. And a local staff who has turned their heads to wrongs around us and walked from integrity and their professional responsibilities as not to stifle Ad Revenue to stay alive.

Now they want to comment omnisciently about Vouchers, and how they 'will' affect the future? LOL!

Here is the reason we should be offered Vouchers. Because it should be our 'Choice'.

Make sure you take the time and go rent the Movie, 'Won't back down'. With a cast and crew who you would not think would be in such a true statement about our school system. Well worth the time to watch.

Opus

"Because it should be our 'Choice'." You do have a choice and that is to pay for a private education on your own.
How about we take your theory further....."I choose to not have the road fixed in front of the homes on the other side of town." or "I choose to not to pay for fire protection on the north side."
This one paragraph of the editorial sums up why vouchers should be done away with: " Public schools are subject to open-records laws and total transparency when it comes to spending. Private schools are not. Sending taxpayer dollars into a system that does not have to justify how it is being spent nor share specific results on testing standards is poor public policy."

Monteee

+ 1 for Opus.

MidwestAtheist

Right on.

hammer

You "choose" a private school, pay for it yourself. It's private!

FUBAR

And you "choose" a public scool, so you pay for it. Why should people that "choose" a private school have to pay double?

For the record, my kids go to public school and that is my choice. Now imagine if I also had to pay for my neighbors kids enrollment for private school..

pheasant

Tell us Hammer, what is you name and who do you work for? LOL!!!!!

pheasant

These people are WRS workers. They will lie and tell you that they are not. They have no integrity and they are stealing from their neighbors. If they are not WRS workers, check with those very close to them. Liars!!!!!!!!

Greyhame

Your position is mistaken for several reasons. There is no correlation between increased spending and results in education. Educational spending in state schools has dramatically increased in the last two decades, but there has been no corresponding increase in student performance.
Accountability in private and parochial schools comes from the parents. Your argument presumes parents don't care! The fact that more want vouchers in Milwaukee and other places indicates that the parents' have found these schools acceptable.
Interestingly the State does not allow the parochial schools to use the same testing standard for elementary and high schools the state run schools use. Most private/parochial schools would be glad to use the same test standard. but the state schools seemingly do not want the apples to apples comparison.
Third vouchers make good economic sense. It costs X dollars for the state to educate a child. the vouchers give less money thereby saving the taxpayers money.

TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls

Each one of Greyhames “reasons” has major faults.

1. Greyhame - “There is no correlation between increased spending and results in education. Educational spending in state schools has dramatically increased in the last two decades, but there has been no corresponding increase in student performance.”
Is this a dramatic increase? “Let’s look at the last ten years – for all of us inflation has increased by almost 25 percent in total or around 2.5 percent a year on average. State school aids are up a total of 4.6 percent over that same ten year span – that works out to an average of half a percent increase each year.”—Tony Evers, January 23, 2013.
Greyhame, if there is no correlation, then why does the per-pupil voucher amount for the program need to increase significantly from as Walker has proposed when it already is in excess of the per pupil aid amount for public schools?

TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls

2a. Greyhames – “Accountability in private and parochial schools comes from the parents. Your argument presumes parents don't care! The fact that more want vouchers in Milwaukee and other places indicates that the parents' have found these schools acceptable.”


Both Tony Evers and Scott Walker have shown through their collective work on the School Accountability Task Force that accountability comes from data regarding the schools’ success. Yes, parents do care. Parents who can afford to pay $20,000 full tuition for each of their kids to go to private schools could have a chunk of that portion subsidized by the state.

When there has been measured accountability as in the Milwaukee Voucher program, measured results show the voucher schools do not perform. The most recently test scores bear this out.

LAXTEA

You are living on another planet. Unless you are talking about some posh Wauwatosa boarding school, private schools do NOT cost $20K a year. Try ~$6K or less for the average Catholic school. The public schools on the other hand cost more than DOUBLE that yearly per pupil.

TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls

2b
Voucher schools scored lower than their counterpart Milwaukee Public Schools.
http://www.jsonline.com/news/education/wisconsin-voucher-students-lag-in-latest-state-test-r49ktlp-204204821.html

Not only do they score lower, when an apples-to-apples comparison (remove students with disabilities, compare lower-income students in both systems) you get numbers like the table below that is the latest such DPI comparison I could find. Note FRL==Free/Reduced Lunch and SwD=students with disabilities. Highlights include Choice, No SwD 55.8% proficient in Reading MPS-FRL, No SwD 64.3% proficient in Reading Choice, No SwD 34.8% proficient in Math MPS-FRL, No SwD 49.9% proficient in Math See the full table here: http://oea.dpi.wi.gov/files/oea/pdf/mps-mcpc-swd.pdf

TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls

2c
Data over time also show fact that voucher students don’t perform better.

In 2011, the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau released a five-year longitudinal
study, which concluded that students in Milwaukee using vouchers to attend
private schools perform no better on standardized tests than their counterparts in
public schools.
Moreover, the majority of students (approximately 75%) who had enrolled in
MPCP in 9th grade had withdrawn from the program by the time that they had
reached 12th grade. This means that the “success” that voucher advocates point
to with regard to graduation rates and college enrollment only reflects successful
students’ “exposure” to MPCP, not their long-term participation in the program.

TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls

3.
3. Greyhames – “Interestingly the State does not allow the parochial schools to use the same testing standard for elementary and high schools the state run schools use. Most private/parochial schools would be glad to use the same test standard. but the state schools seemingly do not want the apples to apples comparison.”

Where did you get this inaccurate information? It is incorrect. Here is the information the Department of Pubic Instruction shares with all private schools to encourage them to participate in the testing:

http://oea.dpi.wi.gov/oea_privatesch

LAXTEA

Right! They aren't biased, they have no agenda.

TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls

4a 4. Greyhames – “Third vouchers make good economic sense. It costs X dollars for the state to educate a child. the vouchers give less money thereby saving the taxpayers money.”

The public can identify “X” for each public school District in the state.

Public schools “X dollar” cost includes the cost of providing special education services for students identified with needs. While this includes some costs for which the district receives some additional federal and state aid (which is additional costs showing up per pupil figures), it also includes transfers of funds from the General to the Special Education Fund to cover up special education costs in excess of these aids. This amounts to more than 10 percent of the General Fund (Public School Revenue Limit) portion of the budget.

TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls

4bPublic schools must also provide transportation to public and private school students in the district. Most of this costs comes out of the portion of the budget that is controlled by the public school revenue limit, which Walker proposes freezing after reducing last year. The schools don’t get credit on the per pupil cost of transporting private school students. It makes their spending per student appear worse.

Private schools do not need to hire licensed staff and follow all other types of requirements.

We do not know the full cost of education in private schools. Public school must annually complete an full audited financial statement.

Expansion of the voucher program increases the pot necessary for education funding from tax dollars. Income requirements are proposed to be removed. Green Bay and Racine districts have done analysis showing the impact on the local taxpayer from voucher programs.

Napoleon

Voucher schools: public money for religious schools. That's the hidden agenda, that's the secret motive for all this silliness.

Fill a child's mind with crazy superstitious religious nonsense, you do the child a bad deed.

"I'm an atheist, and that's it. I believe there's nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for each other." - Katherine Hepburn

"All natural institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit." - Thomas Paine

"Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifiying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity." - Thomas Paine

"The first clergyman was the first rascal who met the first fool." - Voltaire

"Men who believe absurdities will commit atrocities." - Voltaire

Redwall

The Tribune wrote: "Public schools are subject to open-records laws and total transparency when it comes to spending. Private schools are not. Sending taxpayer dollars into a system that does not have to justify how it is being spent nor share specific results on testing standards is poor public policy."

Tribune, do you really believe there is total transparency in public school spending?

And have you any doubt private schools currently do more with less funding?

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