Two years ago when Gov. Scott Walker introduced a budget packed full of controversial changes that drastically affected public education statewide — including record funding cuts and the crippling of teachers unions — another change simultaneously hit the Racine public schools.
“The budget passed in July (2011) and the voucher program started in August,” says Marc Duff, the Racine Unified School District’s budget director and a former Republican state representative until 2002. “It all happened so quickly and at the same time we were dealing with all the other changes to collective bargaining and Act 10.”
Now, for the second budget in a row, Walker is talking vouchers. It’s a program first started in Milwaukee two decades ago that requires the state and school district to share in the cost of educating a student at a private rather than a public school. In the 2011-13 budget, Walker extended the voucher program to Racine.
Walker says they improve student educational performance and provide an alternative for parents whose children are in struggling public schools.