Wednesday, June 5, 2013

School choice passes Joint Finance Committee...kind of...sort of...well, not really...

From the MacIver Institute:
After more than two decades of vouchers, Wisconsin is finally getting a statewide school choice program. However, it will be limited to just 1,000 students - or one-tenth of one percent of the state's public school students.....This package...was passed on a 12-4 party line vote at 4:40 AM.
So in other words, the parents of 99.9 percent of students who might like to opt out of public education are out of luck. We pay tuition to send our son to Catholic school but we still shelled out big money to the local school district through our taxes. My son's school is struggling with enrollment, and I really don't enjoy subsidizing the competition.

I had much more written here, but it was probably too cynical to be worth posting.

The JFC did throw one bone to families like mine:
Additionally, JFC members voted in a new form of school choice for Wisconsin. Parents will be able to take advantage of an income tax deduction for families that send their children to private schools. This would include a deduction of expenses totaling up to $4,000 per student for pupils enrolled in grades K-8 and $10,000 per student for high schoolers.
I'd love to see a no-strings-attached tax credit for any family that opts out of public education, but that seems to be a pipe dream. What is your policy preference?


  1. WPA has this response, see Open Letter to WI Legislators:

  2. Tax credits for families that don't use public schools would be a really bad idea, I think. It's a nice idea, but once you accept their money, the government can start attaching strings to it. Not right away of course, but eventually some one will object to money being spent with "no oversight or accountability" which is the mantra against school choice right now. "Who pays the piper calls the tune."
    I don't mind paying for the public school system. I've never used the fire department and I hope I never do, but I think it's part of my civic duty to help provide it for people who may need it. I feel the same way about the public school system. I may wish the fire department or the schools were different, but that's another issue.

    1. As Dad29 says below, vouchers have way more strings attached than tax credits.

      I do mind paying for the public school system. We can look back and ridicule the Soviet media, but our education system does pretty much the same thing. My town is falling apart, but we've got two big beautiful buildings here: the school and city hall.

      There is no virtue in paying taxes because we are coerced to do so. I execute my civic duty to provide education for those who can't afford it by donating to support tuition assistance for private schools. Because taxes are involuntary, they are not charity. And without charity, they are a resounding gong.

  3. Umnnnhhhh...

    In reality, the tax-credit is FAR superior to "choice" funding. While the credit is granted to families regardless of which (non-public) school is chosen, thus encouraging such choice, the "choice" funding is sent directly to a school. The school, therefore, is in a position where it will be subject to the State's demands for 'content of curriculum'--which WILL happen at some point in time.

    In contrast, the tax-credit method cannot "direct" school curriculum. There is no direct connection between the money (credit) and the school, thus no leverage.


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