Wisconsin Governor Evers seeks to freeze voucher school enrollment and suspend charter school expansion

Molly Beck:

He said in the Milwaukee program especially, enrollment freezes in private voucher schools would disproportionately affect children of color living in low-income households.

“Most of our families don’t have the kind of income where they would have realistic choices,” he said at the time.

Under Evers’ proposal, voucher schools also would be banned from charging tuition for students living in poverty under the proposal and would be required to allow students to opt out of religious activities.

All teachers working in schools receiving taxpayer-funded vouchers would be required to be licensed like public school teachers, and all voucher schools would be required to be accredited before receiving taxpayer funds, under Evers’ proposal.

In another provision, increases in the amount of money private voucher schools receive per student would be tied to increases in the amount of money school districts could raise in revenue and receive through the state’s funding formula.

Suspend charter school expansion

Evers in his spending plan also would suspend programs created by Republicans in recent years to expand independent charter schools in school districts that have persistent gaps in academic achievement between groups of students.

The University of Wisconsin System Office of Educational Opportunity, which was created in 2015 and may authorize independent charter schools over the objection of school district officials, would be barred from authorizing new schools until 2023.

The budget proposal also seeks to prevent a flurry of new independent charter schools from opening.

Under state law, charter schools may be authorized by technical colleges, the City of Milwaukee, all UW System chancellors, the state’s tribal leaders, and the Waukesha County Executive. Evers’ budget proposal suspends the organizations’ authority to authorize new charter schools until 2023.

A spokesman for UW System did not respond to a request for comment on the proposals to suspend the system’s ability to create new charter schools.

Another program known as the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program would be eliminated. The program was created in 2015 and required public school districts receiving persistent failing grades from the state to be taken over by county officials.

The program, which was created to address low-performing schools in Milwaukee, requires the county executive to appoint a special commissioner to take over a select number of schools in a district receiving failing grades and turn them over to an outside operator.

Scott Bauer:

Evers is also calling for requiring all teachers working in private schools that accept taxpayer-funded voucher students to be licensed like public school teachers. He also wants to give taxpayers more information on property tax bills about how much of their money is going to fund voucher schools. He’s also calling for a cap on enrollment in the voucher program for students with disabilities.

Jesse Opoien:

Evers is set to deliver his first budget address Thursday evening, but has shared some details from the spending plan with reporters in the weeks leading up to it. His plans for voucher and charter schools were first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Monday, then shared with other reporters later that day.

Aides to the governor framed the proposal as a way to reduce property taxes and to discuss funding sources for the voucher program without affecting currently-enrolled students.

Opponents of the plan accused Evers of favoring teachers’ unions over students.

“Evers’ budget would end school choice as Wisconsin knows it,” said C.J Szafir, executive vice president of the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, in a statement.

Related: The DPI, lead by Mr. Evers, granted thousands of elementary teacher reading content knowledge requirement exemptions.

Yet: “The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”.