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Governor Walker's 2013-2014 budget includes some encouraging expansion of school choice in Wisconsin, particularly in the Parental Choice Program or the "voucher program."
Gov. Scott Walker reads to students at Messmer Catholic
Preparatory School, a private voucher school in Milwaukee.
Governor Walker recommends extending to low-income and working-class parents in eligible school districts the same private school option for their children that parents in Milwaukee and Racine currently enjoy. The eligible families must live in school districts containing at least 4,000 enrolled students and 2 underperforming (‘D’ or ‘F’) schools (currently Beloit, Fond du Lac, Green Bay, Kenosha, Madison, Sheboygan, Superior, Waukesha, and West Allis-West Milwaukee). The expansion is capped at 500 students statewide in 2013-14 and 1,000 students in 2014-15.
Wisconsin Family Action supports this proposal.
- Parents are responsible for the education of their children. Having good choices of partners to choose from to help them with this critical responsibility is important. The expansion of this school choice program opens up additional options for many parents.
- Taxpayers get a better deal. The cost per pupil for students in the voucher program is currently a maximum of $6,442. The average per-pupil cost in Wisconsin's public schools is over $11,000. Even with the Governor's proposed increase in 2014-2015 for students in the voucher program ($7,050 K-8 and $7,856 9-12; vouchers have not increased for several years), taxpayers are saving money.
- Communities are also getting better prepared young people. Research on Milwaukee's Parental Choice Program shows better graduation rates among students who have been in the Choice Program and also has had a positive impact on Milwaukee Public Schools' overall academic performance and graduation rates because of the competition choice schools create.