State school superintendent critical of plans to expand school choiceThe state’s top education official is blasting the legislature’s budget committee for its vote last week to expand school vouchers to Green Bay.
By: Brian Bull, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The state’s top education official is blasting the legislature’s budget committee for its vote last week to expand school vouchers to Green Bay.
Tony Evers, Superintendent for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, says the expansion should be struck from the state budget. He says he also opposes the committee’s vote to expand vouchers to Racine, but adds that the Green Bay expansion was “really egregious”, because the vote happened late at night.
“This major change in how public schooling will look in Green Bay was done without one single public hearing to hear from the citizens of Green Bay, whether this is something they wanted to happen,” Evers says.
The voucher program lets public school students attend private and religious schools with taxpayer money. Evers says expanding the program when public schools are already facing nearly $800 million in cuts will have a lasting impact on taxpayers and school districts.
“If indeed the vouchers are expanded to any place else in the state including Milwaukee, the potential is very strong that property taxes will increase,” adds Evers. “Because not all the students that will be in the voucher program will be from public schools. In fact, from our Milwaukee experience, most of them were right in the private school system at that time. So the funding for that will come from the local property taxpayers, that's a significant issue.”
Evers hopes that lawmakers will allow public hearings at some point, when the full legislature tackles the budget next week.
Gov. Walker has defended his plan to expand vouchers as one way to help improve education in the state.