Wisconsin Budget cuts $834 million from schools

Amy Hetzner and Erin Richards:

State and local funding for general Wisconsin public school operations would drop 5.5% in 2011-’12 while Milwaukee’s private-school voucher program could be poised for a massive expansion under Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal, one that slashes $834 million in state K-12 education spending over the next two years.
The governor’s 2011-’13 budget proposal would phase out the income requirements of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, eliminate the enrollment cap on student participation, and allow Milwaukee families to use their publicly funded voucher to attend any private school in Milwaukee County that wished to participate in the program.
Walker also hopes to remove a requirement that students in the choice schools take state tests, possibly scuttling new efforts to gauge whether the private school choice program has meaningful impact on academic achievement.
“We’ve been saying for a month now that the second shoe was going to drop,” said Tom Beebe, executive director of Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools, referring to Walker’s recent push for major concessions on benefits from teachers and other public employees. “It wasn’t just dropped. It was thrown at the head.”