Commentary on Betsy DeVos Visit to a Milwaukee Voucher School

Do kids who attend private schools w publicly funded tuition vouchers do better than public schools? Research is mixed. Here’s a comprehensive look at the highs and lows in Milwaukee, which I wrote right as ⁦@BetsyDeVosED⁩ was rising to office. https://t.co/esSBjs5T7C — Erin Richards (@emrichards) September 16, 2019 .@betsydevosed was involved early in Wisconsin’s voucher … Continue reading Commentary on Betsy DeVos Visit to a Milwaukee Voucher School

“An all-voucher system would be a shock to the educational system, but the shakeout might be just what the system needs,”

David Brooks on: Professor Warren also supported proposals to help families afford day care, but she opposed the approach that candidate Warren now advocates. Back then, she called taxpayer-funded day care a liberal “sacred cow”: “Any subsidy that benefits working parents without providing a similar benefit to single-income families pushes the stay-at-home mother and her … Continue reading “An all-voucher system would be a shock to the educational system, but the shakeout might be just what the system needs,”

No, voucher schools haven’t raised property taxes by $1B since 2011

Eric Litke: Voucher schools are an ongoing point of contention in Wisconsin’s divided government, with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers even promising to tighten or end the decades-old program. The system, which uses taxpayer money to send low-income students to private schools, has been tweaked and debated but ultimately expanded under Republican control in recent years. … Continue reading No, voucher schools haven’t raised property taxes by $1B since 2011

‘FBI Investigates Controversial Voucher Vote’

Laura Baigert: However, the NewsChannel 5 story fails to identify any sources upon which it relied to make these bold assertions about a purported FBI investigation into “whether any improper incentives were offered to pass Gov. Bill Lee’s school vouchers bill.” The story simply states “NewsChannel 5 Investigates has learned,” and “NewsChannel 5 has learned.” … Continue reading ‘FBI Investigates Controversial Voucher Vote’

In Florida, vouchers win ground, but courts may have ultimate say

Patrick Jonsson: Chikara Parks is a registered Democrat and a “huge fan of public schools.” The single mom of four school-aged children is also a fan of vouchers. Ms. Parks, who is African American, has, with the help of Florida’s tax credit scholarship for families with limited resources, parlayed her children’s struggle in public schools … Continue reading In Florida, vouchers win ground, but courts may have ultimate say

Florida governor signs bill for new private school vouchers

Curt Anderson: Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed into law a bill creating a new voucher program for thousands of low- and middle-income students to attend private and religious schools using taxpayer dollars traditionally spent on public schools. The $130 million Family Empowerment Scholarship program was a top priority for the Republican-led Legislature … Continue reading Florida governor signs bill for new private school vouchers

“that $119 million voucher cost represents just 1 percent of Wisconsin’s $11.5 billion in total local, state, and federal public-school funding”

Vicki Alger and Martin Lueken: Secondly, Pope’s latest perennial request to the LFB asks for only the program’s costs and doesn’t ask for a single voucher program savings calculation. That omission, however, didn’t stop dozens of media outlets from repeating the ominous headline that vouchers, along with charter schools, “consume $193 million in state aid.” … Continue reading “that $119 million voucher cost represents just 1 percent of Wisconsin’s $11.5 billion in total local, state, and federal public-school funding”

Some Regulations Deter Private Schools from Participating in Voucher Programs

Corey DeAngelis: Regulations of school voucher programs can be well-intended. Policymakers may hope to prevent “bad” schools from operating or may limit schools’ ability to be selective in their admissions procedures in the name of establishing equal access to private options. But do top-down regulations of school voucher programs come with any unintended consequences? Our … Continue reading Some Regulations Deter Private Schools from Participating in Voucher Programs

Even with a Democrat in the governor’s mansion, don’t bet much will change on vouchers

Alan Borsuk: There was a window from 1995 to 1998 when it wasn’t clear what the future of private school vouchers would be in Wisconsin. The state Legislature voted in 1995 to increase the number of vouchers available to low-income Milwaukee children and, for the first time, to allow students attending religious schools to take … Continue reading Even with a Democrat in the governor’s mansion, don’t bet much will change on vouchers

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

Florida’s Voucher Vindication

Wall Street Journal: One issue that helped Florida Governor Ron DeSantis beat progressive Andrew Gillum in November’s gubernatorial nail-biter was his support for the state’s private school voucher program. To understand why that mattered, consider a report this week on the link between K-12 school choice and college success. Nearly 100,000 low-income students can attend … Continue reading Florida’s Voucher Vindication

Commentary on Wisconsin Voucher Spending (no mention of total spending….)

Susan Endres: “It’s important for districts and taxpayers to understand the effect of open enrollment and the movement of money that occurs there, too,” he said. “Because there are a higher number of kids who open-enroll from public school to public school than receive vouchers through the state.” Ruddy made the same connection. “I think … Continue reading Commentary on Wisconsin Voucher Spending (no mention of total spending….)

Voucher Regulation Reduces Quality of Private School Options

Corey A. DeAngelis: If only it were that easy. My just-released study — co-authored with George Mason University graduate student Blake Hoarty — suggests that higher-quality private schools are less likely to participate in two of the most highly regulated voucher programs in the country, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program and the Ohio Educational Choice … Continue reading Voucher Regulation Reduces Quality of Private School Options

Voucher Regulation Reduces Quality of Private School Options

Corey A. DeAngelis: If only it were that easy. My just-released study — co-authored with George Mason University graduate student Blake Hoarty — suggests that higher-quality private schools are less likely to participate in two of the most highly regulated voucher programs in the country, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program and the Ohio Educational Choice … Continue reading Voucher Regulation Reduces Quality of Private School Options

Public Support Climbs for Teacher Pay, School Expenditures, Charter Schools, and Universal Vouchers

Albert Cheng, Michael B. Henderson, Paul E. Peterson and Martin R. West: Education’s political landscape has shifted dramatically over the past year. To the consternation of most school-district officials, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos used the bully pulpit to promote charter schools, vouchers, and tax credits for private-school scholarships. To the distress of teachers unions, … Continue reading Public Support Climbs for Teacher Pay, School Expenditures, Charter Schools, and Universal Vouchers

Support for Universal School Vouchers Skyrockets

Corey DeAngelis: EducationNext just released its 12th annual survey of public opinion. The nationally representative survey, administered in May 2018, finds that 54 percent of the general public supports private school vouchers for all students. This result is up 9 percentage points (20 percent) from 2017. On the other hand, only 43 percent of the … Continue reading Support for Universal School Vouchers Skyrockets

How the course of Wisconsin school choice and vouchers changed on June 10, 1998

Alan Borsuk: It’s a much different world for pretty much every school and school district in Wisconsin, both public and private. A few aspects of that, in thumbnail form: Without vouchers, a lot of current private schools would have closed or would never have opened. Competition for enrollment in Milwaukee and Racine — and increasingly … Continue reading How the course of Wisconsin school choice and vouchers changed on June 10, 1998

A New “Report” Misleads on School Vouchers

Patrick Wolf Here are the Newspeak translations: • “Large body” means “five studies,” selected out of 20 rigorous experimental and quasi-experimental evaluations that exist on private school choice in the U.S. The authors claim the commentary relies on six studies but one of the supposed studies is a commentary by Mark Dynarski and Austin Nichols … Continue reading A New “Report” Misleads on School Vouchers

Three Countries in 14 Minutes: School Choice Lessons From Abroad Vouchers, private schools, and open enrollment in France, Sweden, and New Zealand

Emily Richmond: School choice is one of the most contentious issues in K-12 education today. But it’s hardly an American invention. Sarah Butrymowicz of The Hechinger Report recently traveled to New Zealand, Sweden, and France to look at how school choice plays out, and whether there are lessons for the U.S. system. Why is New … Continue reading Three Countries in 14 Minutes: School Choice Lessons From Abroad Vouchers, private schools, and open enrollment in France, Sweden, and New Zealand

When School-Voucher Foes Called in the Feds … and Called the Shots

James Varney: It was a prolonged mystery that struck Wisconsin education reformers as more akin to a Kafka novel than American due process: Who was behind cryptic demand letters sent under the aegis of the Obama Justice Department, intimating without specific evidence that Milwaukee’s school-choice program was illegally discriminating against disabled kids? Now, after a … Continue reading When School-Voucher Foes Called in the Feds … and Called the Shots

Florida House passes sweeping schools and voucher bill

Gary Fineout: Following a sharply worded partisan debate, the Republican-controlled Florida House on Thursday passed a sweeping education bill that would add yet another private-school voucher program in the state while also making a vast array of changes on everything from school testing to how much money charter schools can receive. It’s the second year … Continue reading Florida House passes sweeping schools and voucher bill

Vouchers and taxpayer supported school districts

Erin Richards: In 2015-’16, Wisconsin was home to just over a million school-aged children. About 860,000 attended public schools. About 123,000 attended private schools: about 90,000 who paid tuition, and about 33,000 who used vouchers. About 20,000 children were home-schooled. Vouchers are taxpayer-funded tuition subsidies that help children attend private schools, the vast majority of … Continue reading Vouchers and taxpayer supported school districts

The rise of tax credits: How Arizona created an alternative to school vouchers — and why they’re spreading

Matt Barnum: With its recent adoption of a tax credit scholarship program, Illinois became the 18th state to adopt an innocuously named — but highly controversial — policy that critics have described as a “backdoor voucher.” In some sense, the description is apt. But by injecting a middle layer into the government’s support of private … Continue reading The rise of tax credits: How Arizona created an alternative to school vouchers — and why they’re spreading

School choice opponents’ arguments against voucher schools ring hollow

Will Flanders:: While creating an incentive to improve, school choice has not come at a cost to the public schools. If, as Taylor claims, school choice is designed to “siphon” money from public schools, it’s making a mess of the job. Per-pupil spending is higher today than it was before the start of the voucher … Continue reading School choice opponents’ arguments against voucher schools ring hollow

St. Augustine’s results, not its facilities, will determine voucher school’s impact

Alan Borsuk: Every school on the south side is in fear of what Augustine Prep will mean, a leader of a different school told me recently. Some are at least expressing good wishes. Some are not, especially privately. The biggest thing to watch over the next several years will be enrollment at a lot of … Continue reading St. Augustine’s results, not its facilities, will determine voucher school’s impact

Lighthouse Christian School moving to bigger digs after voucher-fueled enrollment growth

Karen Rivedal: Lighthouse Christian School, which has operated since 2004 out of Lighthouse Church at 5202 Regent St., will gets its own building at 6400 Schroeder Road, with space for up to 260 elementary students. The $3.6 million, two-phase project will increase classrooms from eight to 19 and will add a cafeteria, a library with … Continue reading Lighthouse Christian School moving to bigger digs after voucher-fueled enrollment growth

School Vouchers For Broad Swath of Families On The Table In Illinois School Funding Fight

Linda Lutton: Under the draft proposal reviewed by WBEZ, individual taxpayers could choose to send up to $1 million annually to scholarship organizations rather than to the state Department of Revenue. Those diverted taxpayer dollars would fund scholarships to pay tuition cost at private or parochial schools, or to pay the cost for a public … Continue reading School Vouchers For Broad Swath of Families On The Table In Illinois School Funding Fight

Do vouchers actually expand school choice? Not necessarily — it depends on how they’re designed

Matt Barnum: This is a hotly debated question among supporters and critics of school vouchers, and is especially relevant as U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has vowed to allow more families to use public dollars to pay for private school tuition. A 2016 study considers this question and comes back with an answer: It … Continue reading Do vouchers actually expand school choice? Not necessarily — it depends on how they’re designed

Push to give school vouchers to middle-income families hits wall

Molly Beck:: “The governor supports the K-12 education budget he introduced to the Legislature five months ago,” spokesman Tom Evenson said when asked if Walker would support the proposal. “It provides a $649 million increase in funding for our schools, bringing funding for K-12 to an all-time high. After visiting nearly 50 public schools this … Continue reading Push to give school vouchers to middle-income families hits wall

“After just a few years, voucher students perform as well or better than their non-voucher peers while using significantly less public funding,” 

Joanne Jacobs: Louisiana students who used vouchers to switch from public to private schools did worse in the first year, then improved, concludes a University of Arkansas study. After three years, voucher students were doing as well as similar students who hadn’t switched; low performers did significantly better in English. The Indiana study looked at … Continue reading “After just a few years, voucher students perform as well or better than their non-voucher peers while using significantly less public funding,” 

“After just a few years, voucher students perform as well or better than their non-voucher peers while using significantly less public funding,” 

Joanne Jacobs: Louisiana students who used vouchers to switch from public to private schools did worse in the first year, then improved, concludes a University of Arkansas study. After three years, voucher students were doing as well as similar students who hadn’t switched; low performers did significantly better in English. The Indiana study looked at … Continue reading “After just a few years, voucher students perform as well or better than their non-voucher peers while using significantly less public funding,” 

Commentary On Madison’s Ongoing Tax And Spending Growth; $494,652,025 Budget Spends Nearly $20k Per Student (Voucher schools operate on 60% less….)

Amber Walker: On Monday night, in a 7-0 decision, the Madison School Board approved the district’s $494,652,025 preliminary all-funds budget for the 2017-2018 school year. The Madison Metropolitan School District highlighted it’s balanced operating budget — representing $390,045,697 of the total funds — will result in a $15 per hour minimum wage for the district’s … Continue reading Commentary On Madison’s Ongoing Tax And Spending Growth; $494,652,025 Budget Spends Nearly $20k Per Student (Voucher schools operate on 60% less….)

Two experts debate whether public funds should be used to support private school vouchers

Michael J. Petrilli, Richard D. Kahlenberg, and Kyle Spencer: Rick doesn’t believe that kids should be forced to attend the school their district assigns to them, usually the one closest to their house, or that private schools should be illegal. I don’t believe that tax dollars should flow to schools without any accountability for results. … Continue reading Two experts debate whether public funds should be used to support private school vouchers

Don’t stop others from having school vouchers just because you don’t want one

Citizen Stewart: If the possibility of discrimination is cause for block funding for educational programs we might as well shut down public schools and start over. It’s that bad, and it’s the reason so many families want alternatives. Yes, there are valid arguments against vouchers. Most can be addressed by the way voucher laws are … Continue reading Don’t stop others from having school vouchers just because you don’t want one

Private schools are doing worse in Washington, DC Should you spend your voucher on one?

The Economist: IMAGINE you are a poor parent in Washington, DC. You assumed you would send your child to a public school. But you have been offered a voucher worth up to $12,000 towards tuition at a private one. Should you use it? Until recently the evidence suggested that you should. In 2004 Congress created … Continue reading Private schools are doing worse in Washington, DC Should you spend your voucher on one?

Voucher critics are seizing on D.C. test scores. They’re missing the point.

Washington Post: CRITICS OF school choice could not contain their glee over a new study on the District’s school voucher program showing that students attending private schools did not perform as well on standardized tests as their public school counterparts. It is pretty rich that those who have railed against using test scores to hold … Continue reading Voucher critics are seizing on D.C. test scores. They’re missing the point.

How vouchers transformed Indiana: Private schools now live or die by test scores, too

Dylan Peers McCoy: With Central Christian cut off from hundreds of thousands of dollars in state aid, board members contemplated closing the school. Losing voucher dollars was “catastrophic,” said David Sexauer, who served on the board before taking over as head of school this year. “If it wasn’t for the fact that the church was … Continue reading How vouchers transformed Indiana: Private schools now live or die by test scores, too

School Choice Deniers Critics hype a pair of studies while ignoring other evidence on education vouchers.

Wall Street Journal: President Trump has made a cause of public and private school choice, and liberals who oppose evaluating teachers based on student achievement are now hyping a few studies that have found vouchers hurt student performance. A closer look still supports the case for giving parents choice. More than 400,000 students in 30 … Continue reading School Choice Deniers Critics hype a pair of studies while ignoring other evidence on education vouchers.

Anti-voucher candidate is a good advertisement for vouchers

Chris Rickert: Madison School Board candidate Ali Muldrow might be Republicans’ best advertisement for school vouchers in a part of the state that opposes them. Whether Muldrow and her supporters realize that, though, is not entirely clear. At a candidates forum last week, Muldrow seemed to endorse the use of vouchers, although she said public … Continue reading Anti-voucher candidate is a good advertisement for vouchers

Oaks Academy: Vouchers May Not Be a Panacea But They Are Really Working For Some Families

Barato Britt: True advocates of choice through vouchers shouldn’t suggest vouchers to be the panacea, the proverbial be all end all for education in our nation, no matter how much our President or Education Secretary maintain this assertion. Vouchers, like all educational options, are one means through which we provide students and families the ability … Continue reading Oaks Academy: Vouchers May Not Be a Panacea But They Are Really Working For Some Families

Louisiana school voucher program earns a D for 2016

Danielle Dreilinger: Measured like a school district, the Louisiana Scholarship Program earned 61.4 on a 150-point scale, Dunn said. That would be a D on the state public school report card, and worse than any public school system except for those in St. Helena Parish, Morehouse Parish and Bogalusa. No voucher program earned an A. … Continue reading Louisiana school voucher program earns a D for 2016

Dismal Voucher Results Surprise Researchers as DeVos Era Begins

Kevin Carey: But even as school choice is poised to go national, a wave of new research has emerged suggesting that private school vouchers may harm students who receive them. The results are startling — the worst in the history of the field, researchers say. While many policy ideas have murky origins, vouchers emerged fully … Continue reading Dismal Voucher Results Surprise Researchers as DeVos Era Begins

Vouchers kept Milwaukee Catholic parishes open, but at a cost to religious activity

Erin Richards: Hungerman said he can’t fully explain the reasons behind the numbers. Maybe, he surmised, parishes that begin to accept vouchers experience leadership change and new priorities. Maybe vouchers caused parishioners to change churches. Maybe parishioners, knowing that their parish has a public funding stream, are less likely to donate, or perhaps they don’t … Continue reading Vouchers kept Milwaukee Catholic parishes open, but at a cost to religious activity

Beyond the Classroom: The Implications of School Vouchers for Church Finances

Daniel M. Hungerman, Kevin J. Rinz, Jay Frymark Governments have used vouchers to spend billions of dollars on private education; much of this spending has gone to religiously-affiliated schools. We explore the possibility that vouchers could create a financial windfall for religious organizations operating private schools and in doing so impact the spiritual, moral, and … Continue reading Beyond the Classroom: The Implications of School Vouchers for Church Finances

Milwaukee’s Voucher Verdict What 26 years of vouchers can teach the private-school choice movement—if only it would listen

Erin Richards: Together, Travis Academy and Holy Redeemer have received close to $100 million in taxpayer funding over the years. The sum is less than what taxpayers would have paid for those pupils in public schools, because each tuition voucher costs less than the total expense per pupil in Milwaukee Public Schools. But vouchers weren’t … Continue reading Milwaukee’s Voucher Verdict What 26 years of vouchers can teach the private-school choice movement—if only it would listen

Study: Milwaukee voucher program a half-billion dollar winner

James Wigserson: A new study says the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program will have a $473 million economic impact on the Milwaukee area by 2035 because of higher graduation rates for voucher school students compared to their peers in Milwaukee Public Schools. “There are many well-known benefits of graduating from high school,” Will Flanders, co-author of … Continue reading Study: Milwaukee voucher program a half-billion dollar winner

Wisconsin School Report Cards and Vouchers, In the News

Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email: DPI-crafted school report cards are the primary means we have of discovering and comparing outcomes in Wisconsin schools. Schools in all sectors that receive public funding – traditional public, charter, and parental choice private schools – now all use the same annual Forward exam for students and will … Continue reading Wisconsin School Report Cards and Vouchers, In the News

Pence accomplished what Trump wants for national education: Vouchers and charters

Emma Brown and Perry Stein: The push toward school choice is deeply unpopular with advocates for traditional public schools, including teachers unions. “The general population of the United States of America needs to be watchful, and needs to be making sure there’s accountability there for where this money goes,” said Teresa Meredith, president of the … Continue reading Pence accomplished what Trump wants for national education: Vouchers and charters

Diversity: Louisiana may have solution for wait-listed voucher students

Danielle Dreilinger: Louisiana Education Superintendent John White has a radical solution to get 362 voucher students off waitlists: Enroll now, the state will pay later. These students have all been granted taxpayer-funded vouchers to attend private school. But the budget ran short by about $2 million, generating anguish and attention for families that had already … Continue reading Diversity: Louisiana may have solution for wait-listed voucher students

Military-style voucher school seeks to buy vacant Milwaukee Schools’ building

Annysa Johnson: A proposal by a military-style voucher school to purchase a vacant Milwaukee Public Schools building is scheduled to go before the city next week. Right Step Inc., which is being sued by a group of parents for allegedly abusive practices, is proposing to open a boys-only campus for up to 150 students in … Continue reading Military-style voucher school seeks to buy vacant Milwaukee Schools’ building

The Largest Voucher Program You’ve Never Heard About

James Ryan: handful of states and cities around the country sponsor universal pre-K for four-year-olds, including Georgia, Oklahoma, and, most recently, New York City. Others, including Boston, are moving in that direction. Many believe, with justification, that these are wise investments, given the evidence that high-quality pre-K offers long-ranging benefits to students, which can more … Continue reading The Largest Voucher Program You’ve Never Heard About

Plans for St. Augustine voucher school clear final city hurdle (Milwaukee)

Annysa Johnson: Plans to build what is expected to be the second-largest private school in the Milwaukee Parental Choice voucher program passed its final hurdle at City Hall and could begin construction as early as April. Milwaukee’s Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously approved a special use permit earlier this month for St. Augustine Preparatory School, … Continue reading Plans for St. Augustine voucher school clear final city hurdle (Milwaukee)

Vouchers, charters outscore public schools in latest data

Annysa Johnson: Third- through eighth-grade students in Milwaukee’s private voucher and independent charter schools outperformed their public school counterparts in math and language arts, according to statewide assessment data released Wednesday by the Department of Public Instruction. But Racine public school students overall outscored their voucher school counterparts. And on the ACT, voucher schools outscored … Continue reading Vouchers, charters outscore public schools in latest data

Vouchers: Time for Thinking, Not Rhetoric

Paul Hill: A new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research is one of the relatively few recent studies reporting a negative voucher effect—students using vouchers in Louisiana learned a good deal less than similar students in regular public schools. The reason: students with vouchers had few good choices, since the available schools were … Continue reading Vouchers: Time for Thinking, Not Rhetoric

The School Choice Voucher: A ‘Get Out of Jail’ Card?

Corey DeAngelis, Patrick J. Wolf: report we examine crime rates for young adults who experienced Milwaukee’s citywide voucher program as high school students and a comparable group of their peers who had been public school students. Using unique data collected as part of a longitudinal evaluation of the program, we consider criminal activity by youth … Continue reading The School Choice Voucher: A ‘Get Out of Jail’ Card?

As Wisconsin voucher program grows, remember these questions

Alan Borsuk: In this space two weeks ago, I offered some thoughts on what has been learned in the quarter-century since Milwaukee became the first American city where publicly funded vouchers paid for educating children in private schools. But there’s so much more to say, especially in the light of the prospect — I’d even … Continue reading As Wisconsin voucher program grows, remember these questions

Ron Johnson hosts hearing on voucher schools amid federal probe

Erin Richards: In an interview Monday at St. Marcus School, a voucher school at 2215 Palmer St., Johnson said a staffer brought the investigation to his attention, which prompted him to write letters to U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch this summer, asking for evidence of the basis of their investigation. The department has declined to comment, … Continue reading Ron Johnson hosts hearing on voucher schools amid federal probe

Proposed South Side Milwaukee Voucher High School

Matt Kullig: Ramirez has not said whether his proposed St. Augustine Preparatory Academy would participate in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, but opponents have predicted the school would elect to educate students using taxpayer-funded vouchers and compete directly with the public schools for state education dollars. Ramirez said the goal of the school is to … Continue reading Proposed South Side Milwaukee Voucher High School

Commentary On School Voucher Effectiveness & Economics

Chris Rickert: But there’s still little doubt vouchers mean taxpayers are going to be on the hook for educating some indeterminate number of additional kids than they would be in the absence of vouchers. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, according to Jim Bender, president of the pro-voucher School Choice Wisconsin. He notes that government … Continue reading Commentary On School Voucher Effectiveness & Economics

Comments On proposed Voucher Funding changes… ($37M in a 4.5B Budget)

Molly Beck Overall, roughly $4.5 billion annually is devoted to general school funding in the proposed state budget. The cost for new students in the program over the next two years is projected to be about $37 million. In the last state budget, about $384 million was appropriated for the state’s three voucher systems. Rep. … Continue reading Comments On proposed Voucher Funding changes… ($37M in a 4.5B Budget)

‘Education savings account’ for students with disabilities? Or ‘voucher?’

Hank Long: Public schools are required by state and federal law to accept students with disabilities and to make appropriate accommodations for their learning. So when a district – despite its best of intentions – fails to meet the individual educational needs of such students, where are the students and their families to turn? That’s … Continue reading ‘Education savings account’ for students with disabilities? Or ‘voucher?’

Madison loath to admit that vouchers have an ‘educational purpose’

Chris Rickert: From the way some of the more enthusiastic public school supporters talk, you’d think alternative forms of public education, such as voucher schools, were making millions on the backs of ill-treated kindergartners. The vast majority of Wisconsin’s voucher schools are not-for-profit, though, and it seems unlikely that any of them is, say, forcing … Continue reading Madison loath to admit that vouchers have an ‘educational purpose’

Pro Choice: Vouchers, per student spending and achievement

The Economist: This is not the end of the story for vouchers, however. In both Milwaukee and Washington, voucher schemes get similar results to the public schools but with much less money. Under the DC scheme, each voucher is worth $8,500 a year, compared with $17,500 to educate a child in the public school system. … Continue reading Pro Choice: Vouchers, per student spending and achievement

What choice schools don’t like about Scott Walker’s voucher plan

Alan Borsuk: An important thing to understand about Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal for making an unlimited number of private school tuition vouchers available across Wisconsin is how unattractive, as a practical matter, his plan is to the schools that it could serve. An upcoming gusher of private school vouchers? More likely, as it stands, it … Continue reading What choice schools don’t like about Scott Walker’s voucher plan

School Vouchers have new champions on the Hill

Maggie Severns: At Republicans’ recent retreat, Messer listened to GOP strategist Alex Castellanos promote school choice as one of a handful of issues that should make up a new agenda for the party. “I thought, oh gosh — maybe I’m onto something here,” Messer said. School choice has always been a hard sell in Washington: … Continue reading School Vouchers have new champions on the Hill

Commentary on a Milwaukee voucher school; contemplating accountability & spending differences

Erin Richards: The operator of one of Milwaukee’s longest-running private voucher schools says her organization strives to give disadvantaged children the best shot they can get in life, even when they’ve been left behind by other schools. But new documents and former employees have raised concerns about the internal workings at Ceria M. Travis Academy, … Continue reading Commentary on a Milwaukee voucher school; contemplating accountability & spending differences

An update on Wisconsin Voucher Schools

Erin Richards: How many schools are involved? A total of 159 as of this fall: 113 in Milwaukee serving 26,930 students, 15 in Racine serving 1,740 students, and 31 statewide serving 1,013 students. Almost all of them are religious. The majority are Catholic, Lutheran and Christian schools. How much do the programs cost taxpayers? About … Continue reading An update on Wisconsin Voucher Schools

Study contends voucher programs save money, benefit public schools

Erin Richards: Milwaukee’s long-running school voucher program that allows certain children to attend private and religious schools at taxpayer expense has saved Wisconsin more than $238 million since its inception in 1990, according to a new study by a national voucher advocacy group. The study released Tuesday by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice said … Continue reading Study contends voucher programs save money, benefit public schools

Gubernatorial Candidate Burke’s Voucher & Status Quo Governance Commentary

Patrick Marley: 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. … Continue reading Gubernatorial Candidate Burke’s Voucher & Status Quo Governance Commentary

Commentary on Status Quo K-12 Structures vs. Vouchers

Molly Beck: im Bender, president of voucher advocacy group School Choice Wisconsin, said Burke’s comments were misleading because funding for the voucher program comes from state general purpose revenue. “You can’t talk about taking money away from K-12, unless you believe that money belongs to K-12,” Bender said. “It’s not possessive of any one particular … Continue reading Commentary on Status Quo K-12 Structures vs. Vouchers

More Public School Choices; Fewer Voucher Applicants

Cassandra MD Hart: This study examines public school characteristics, and public and private school market characteristics, associated with participation among elementary-aged students in a means-tested school voucher program in Florida. Participants are more likely than eligible nonparticipants to come from disadvantaged public schools on multiple dimensions. On average, participants’ public schools have lower aggregate student … Continue reading More Public School Choices; Fewer Voucher Applicants

Local, National & Global School Voucher Perspectives

Matthew DeFour on Madison School Board Member and Gubernatorial Candidate Mary Burke: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke said Tuesday that if elected, she would eliminate the new statewide voucher program and private school tax deduction in the next budget. Burke, a Madison School Board member, previously said she didn’t support the statewide voucher program. In … Continue reading Local, National & Global School Voucher Perspectives

Voucher students post gain in math, reading; still lag public schools

Erin Richards & Kevin Crowe: Reading and math proficiency for students attending private, mostly religious schools in Milwaukee with the help of taxpayer-funded vouchers ticked up in 2013 from 2012, according to the latest state standardized test score results. On average, students in Milwaukee’s private-school voucher program still performed lower than students in the city’s … Continue reading Voucher students post gain in math, reading; still lag public schools

Public school advocates dismiss voucher popularity at their own risk

Chris Rickert: Usually, the popularity of something is an indication that people value it. Public school proponents and anti-voucher Democrats might want to keep that in mind, as their tendency to downplay support for vouchers can sound like an excuse for avoiding improvements to public schools that keep public school enrollments strong. …. Pope did … Continue reading Public school advocates dismiss voucher popularity at their own risk

Wisconsin Senate approves more oversight for new voucher schools

Erin Richards: During an active Senate session on Tuesday, lawmakers passed a bill that would make it harder for new private and religious schools to join Wisconsin’s taxpayer-funded school voucher programs.  To become law, a similar bill still has to pass the Assembly, which supporters expect could happen as soon as next week. The measure has … Continue reading Wisconsin Senate approves more oversight for new voucher schools

Parents push for Miss. special education vouchers

Associated Press:

Parents who want Mississippi lawmakers to approve special education vouchers are adding their voices in support.
House and Senate lawmakers held a hearing Tuesday to showcase the proposals. Natalie Gunnels of Tupelo told lawmakers that public school administrators can’t or won’t take care of students like her son Patrick, who has trouble walking, is sensitive to noises, and has trouble reading and writing.
“It’s obvious to me and my husband that the public school system is not equipped to educate the Patricks of our state,” Gunnels said.
The plan would give debit cards with more than $6,000 on them to parents who withdraw their special education students from public schools. The money could be spent on private school tuition or private tutoring services.
Mandy Rogers, a disability advocate, said that the state has been promising improvements but not delivering since the federal law was passed.

New voucher plan for Wisconsin special-needs students revives dispute

Erin Richards

A proposal to allow special-needs students to attend private schools at taxpayer expense is being revived, the latest effort by Republicans in the Legislature to give parents more options outside traditional public schools.
The proposal is a revamped version of a measure that failed in Gov. Scott Walker’s 2013-’15 budget.
That measure would have allowed 5% of students with disabilities to attend schools outside their home districts with the help of a taxpayer-funded voucher. As part of a broader compromise, the portion on students with disabilities was dropped in favor of a limited expansion of private school vouchers statewide.
The revived Wisconsin Special Needs Scholarship bill is scheduled to be introduced Tuesday by State Sens. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) and Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), and Reps. John Jagler (R-Watertown) and Dean Knudson (R-Hudson).
The primary concern of those who oppose special-needs vouchers is that private schools are not obligated to follow federal disability laws. They point to examples in other states where — in their eyes — underqualified operators have declared themselves experts, opened schools and started tapping taxpayer money.

Vouchers must be monitored to ensure school integration, U.S. says

Danielle Dreilinger

The U.S. Justice Department says Louisiana’s private school voucher program must be monitored to make sure it doesn’t make public school segregation worse. To that end, it wants the state to submit extensive student and school demographics each year.
Moreover, federal lawyers say that after 25 years of working together, Louisiana has largely stopped cooperating with the federal government on efforts to ensure racial equality in schools. They made the case in a memo filed Friday with Judge Ivan Lemelle in federal District Court in New Orleans.
The lawyers wrote that “the United States’ requests for information in this case are not an attack on the voucher program.” However, the demand is likely to raise Gov. Bobby Jindal’s hackles once more in this high-profile court case that has drawn support from prominent national Republicans, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus, both of whom visited New Orleans voucher schools this month.

Voucher Commentary

Dave Zweifel:

On its face, sending money to religious schools ought to be unconstitutional under the First Amendment’s prohibition against promoting religion. The designers of vouchers cleverly got around that by sending “vouchers” to families who meet certain financial guidelines and who, in turn, pay for tuition at a private school.
So now Jewish taxpayers are helping fund Christian schools, nonbelievers are contributing to devout fundamentalists, and scientists are helping pay for evolution deniers.
Worse, though, is that the proliferation of vouchers is eating at the very fabric of the American public education system — a system in which children of all beliefs, creeds and colors learn about each other, share experiences and explore conflicting ideas so that they can intelligently engage in the complexities of American democracy.
That’s what is so dangerous about vouchers. Using taxpayer dollars, they promote putting people who look alike and think alike with each other. That may be your view of the world, but don’t ask others to pay for it.

Related: Sweden’s voucher system.

Voucher enrollment more than doubles in Racine

Erin Richards:

In its first year operating free of a state-imposed enrollment cap, Racine’s private school voucher program saw enrollment more than double to 1,245 students, according to fall enrollment figures released by the state Department of Public Instruction.
Growth in the Milwaukee private-school voucher program continued its steady climb, increasing by about 3.6% from last year to 25,820 students, up from 24,941 last September.
Including the 512 students using a voucher to attend a private school in a new statewide program, the traditional third Friday of September head count reveals a total of 27,577 students using public dollars to attend 148 private, mostly religious schools in the state in the 2013-’14 school year.
Participating private school leaders and voucher-school champions celebrate the growth, saying they’re meeting a parent need and offering more children an opportunity to pursue a quality education.
“I think the community has responded very positively,” said Frank E. Trecroci, the founder and administrator of Mount Pleasant Renaissance School in Racine, which more than tripled its number of voucher students to 280 this fall, up from 89 voucher students in September 2012.
But many public-school advocates see the growth of voucher programs as a threat, and those concerns are now coming from a chorus of voices outside Milwaukee.
“I struggle with the wisdom of moving in this direction,” Patricia Deklotz, the superintendent of the Kettle Moraine School District in Waukesha County, said Thursday. “We’re building a dual system of funding here.”

Mary Burke shares views on voucher schools

Tom Kertscher:

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke shared some of her views on school vouchers in a lengthy interview she did over the weekend with blogger Heather DuBois Bourenane, a prominent critic of Gov. Scott Walker.
Some of Burke’s remarks, based on a transcript:
Q. “What do you really think you can you do to move past this sort of toxic and divisive rhetoric without seeming like you’re not willing to take a stand on the issues that really matter the most to preserving Wisconsin values and to standing up for Wisconsin workers and students and educators?”
“I talk about jobs a lot because I do believe that there are a lot of people who are unemployed and really struggling to get by and we do have to emphasize what’s going to get jobs growing here in Wisconsin. But also I think that the direction that we’re headed in terms of education is really frightening to me. The statewide voucher expansion we’re talking about, I actively fought against and I think that I am very worried about what will happen in the next four years with regards to taking the caps off and funding them through a continued siphoning of funds that should be going to public education.”
Q.”If you don’t support a full repeal of the voucher system, how exactly do you plan to improve their performance and accountability without draining more taxpayer funds from the public school budget?”
“Sure. Well, first, in the interview I gave regarding the voucher, statewide voucher expansion, the emphasis I definitely placed is in not taking off the caps or letting the voucher expand. Then in terms of rolling back that statewide voucher expansion, you know, as governor I would have to work with the Legislature and certainly would do that, but it would be obviously only in conjunction with the Legislature that could happen.

Vouchers & Politics: Commentary

Chris Rickert:

Despite all this, Gov. Scott Walker and lawmakers seem paralyzed in the face of potential bipartisan agreement.
Walker has said as far back as August that he’s open to changing the voucher program to give preference to public school students. The Republican chairmen of the Senate and Assembly education committees have made similar noises. Yet none responded to messages from me saying essentially: Well, OK, so are you introducing legislation to do that?
Similarly, Gillian Drummond, spokeswoman for Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson, said “I have not heard of anything” on possible Democratic legislation on the issue in the Senate.
Speaking on background, a staffer for Rep. Sondy Pope, who has been outspoken in her criticism of underwriting private school tuition with vouchers, said “our caucus as a whole is looking” to do something even more stringent than in Racine, but was less than optimistic about Republicans going along.

Commentary on Wisconsin’s Voucher Program

Chris Rickert

The funny thing about the whole loud, bitter debate over school vouchers in Wisconsin is that it’s hard to argue with the goals of the most honorable advocates from both sides.
Honorable pro-voucher folks see the issue as one of choice: What does it matter if voucher schools don’t do any better than public schools? Everyone knows that different children need different educational experiences, and if choice is intimately connected with freedom, and public education is a right, then parents should be able to choose which schools their children go to — on the government’s dime.
Honorable anti-voucher folks, on the other hand, see a strong and enduring network of public schools as kind of a great democratic leveler of playing fields: Here are institutions where children — regardless of means and family background — can go to get a good education, experience cultures and histories different from their own, and be molded into capable participants in a democratic society and lovers of the commonweal.
All of these values — choice and freedom, democracy and community — are distinctly American.

Wisconsin DPI: 73 percent of statewide voucher students already enrolled in private schools

Molly Beck:

The statewide voucher program, in its first year, is at capacity, with about 500 students receiving vouchers statewide, according to the department. Of those, 79 percent did not attend a Wisconsin public school last year.
The program’s enrollment limit will rise to 1,000 next year. The statewide program exists in districts outside of Milwaukee and Racine, which have had programs for years.
Seventy-three percent of students now attending private schools using a voucher were already enrolled in a private school last year, according to the department. Twenty-one percent of students were from public schools. About 3 percent did not attend any school and 2 percent were home schooled.
Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said he would probably support adding a preference given to applicants from public schools given those numbers.