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June 7, 2013

Why aren't voucher schools subject to open records law?

Jack Craver:

Last week, Sarah Karon of the American Civil Liberties Union argued in a Cap Times column that voucher schools should be held to the same standard of public scrutiny to which public schools are currently subjected.

She noted that many private schools that participate in the Milwaukee School Choice Program receive the great majority of their money from taxpayer-financed vouchers.

Open records advocates, such as the Wisconsin Newspaper Association and the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, agree. If voucher schools are receiving taxpayer dollars, then shouldn't the fourth estate be allowed to shine a light on them?

"We feel that because there's a significant amount of money from taxpayers and because there is intense public interest in the metrics (for evaluating schools), they should provide a comparable level of transparency that public schools provide," says Bill Lueders, president of the WFIC.

Among Republicans, there appears to be a divide over just how much accountability taxpayers can demand from vouchers. Whereas the GOP leadership and Gov. Scott Walker are pushing measures that will subject vouchers to the Common Core academic standards and include voucher student test scores in the statewide Student Information System, conservative stalwart Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, one of the loudest advocates of voucher schools, believes those measures pervert the entire idea behind school choice.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at June 7, 2013 12:08 AM
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