Democrat Mary Burke told education officials Friday she would fight as governor to stop the expansion of voucher schools but would leave alone the long-standing program in Milwaukee.
“This is something that may sound like a good political sound bite, but it is bad public policy,” she said of expanding the voucher program.
“I think it is the thing that most threatens a vision of a public school system and an education for students in Wisconsin to be the leaders in our country.”
Her comments drew applause from her audience at a Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators conference at the Concourse Hotel in Madison.
For more than 20 years, the state has run a program in Milwaukee that allows certain students to attend religious schools and other private institutions at taxpayer expense.
In recent years, a similar program was created for eastern Racine County and a more limited one for the rest of the state. Republican Gov. Scott Walker has championed those programs and said he wants to expand the statewide one.
Burke said she would leave alone the Milwaukee program, but indicated she wanted to halt the statewide voucher program.
“For the rest of the state, vouchers have no place and they are a drain on our public school system at a point at which we have very, very limited resources,” she said. “So I do not see the research after 20 years in Milwaukee that says this is a way of improving student learning throughout the state.