Assembly approves Milwaukee school voucher expansionThe city of Milwaukee's voucher school program would have its enrollment cap lifted and be expanded countywide under a plan given preliminary ok by the state Assembly last night.
By: Shawn Johnson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The city of Milwaukee's voucher school program would have its enrollment cap lifted and be expanded countywide under a plan given preliminary ok by the state Assembly last night.
While the voucher program could still only be used by kids from the city of Milwaukee, it would extend public funding to private voucher schools elsewhere in Milwaukee County. The current enrollment cap of 22,500 students would be lifted entirely.
Republican Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald told Democrats it would give more parents an alternative to sending their kids to the Milwaukee Public Schools, a system he described as failing.
“You shouldn't be afraid of competition and giving these kids a chance to go on…and make something of their lives and get a great education,” he says.
But Milwaukee Democrat David Cullen says it didn't make sense to grow a program when data now showed that many participating schools were doing worse than their public school counterparts.
“Some of these schools just aren't performing,” says Cullen. “And to keep throwing money at these kids and these schools that don't perform just doesn't make a lot of sense to me."
This issue often stirs tempers, but rarely as visibly as in a speech by Milwaukee Democrat Jason Fields who took aim both sides of the aisle. The African-American Assemblyman told lawmakers they were "playing with black kids".
“With all due respect, knock it off. Knock it off,” he says. “You all don't give a damn about these kids."
Fields ended his speech with an expletive, prompting a short break in the Assembly's action. While the Milwaukee Democrat has bucked his party to support voucher legislation in the past, he voted against this plan. It cleared the Assembly on a party line vote and heads next to the Senate.