A Republican Assembly leader plans to add to the state budget bill an expansion of Milwaukee’s voucher program to other school districts, potentially giving more families in cities such as Madison access to private and religious schools.
Voucher advocates say the time is ripe to expand the program to other cities, especially with Republicans in control of state government and a recent study suggesting students in the 20-year-old Milwaukee program are testing as well or better than their public school counterparts, with a lower cost per pupil.
They also argue that vouchers would level the playing field for private schools, which have seen enrollment decline as public charter schools have gained popularity.
But voucher opponents say expansion would further cripple public schools, which already face an $834 million cut in state funding over the next two years.
And state test scores to be released Tuesday, which for the first time include 10,600 Milwaukee voucher students, could suggest they are testing no better than poor students in the Milwaukee Public Schools.
“Given the proposed unprecedented cuts to public education as well as results from our statewide assessments, I question plans in the 2011-13 state budget for expanding the choice program in Milwaukee or anywhere else in Wisconsin,” State Superintendent Tony Evers said.