by Brian Washington
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New information has surfaced in Wisconsin that shows, once again, that the state’s voucher program—which uses public dollars to subsidize the cost of tuition at private schools—is a costly hoax on students, parents, and taxpayers.
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has just released new test results that show public school students in Milwaukee and Racine are outperforming those kids who attend voucher schools in both locations. Test results show the same is true even for those students who are categorized as “economically disadvantaged.”
Of course, this is not news to educators, who have known for quite some time that voucher schools—which are not held to the same accountability standards as public schools—miss the mark when it comes to providing students with the best education. Several studies, including the March 2011 University of Arkansas School Choice Demonstration Project, funded by the pro-voucher Walton Family Foundation, have reached similar conclusions.
Betsy Kippers, a teacher with 30-years experience with the Racine Unified School District, is the president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC)—which represents teachers and education support professionals throughout the state.
This is old news. Voucher schools do not do a better job than public schools in educating children and do not close achievement gaps. The big question is why tens of millions in taxpayer dollars are being diverted to them. It just doesn’t add up, and students are paying the price for the bad calculations.
Given the research on voucher schools, why would Gov. Scott Walker and the state legislature expand vouchers over the last two budget cycles? Walker and state legislative leaders are taking their cues from outside groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)—which is pro-privatization and one of the biggest adversaries of public education.
ALEC is funded by billionaires David and Charles Koch, also known as the Koch brothers, who want to defund public schools in favor of for-profit schools with no accountability. Through ALEC, the Koch brothers wine and dine state politicians who, in exchange for lavish gifts and vacation junkets, agree to push ALEC’s model legislation, like vouchers. Vouchers are part of ALEC’s agenda to dismantle public education.
The Koch brothers also fund Americans for Prosperity—another outside group designed to bankroll those political candidates willing to back the Koch agenda—which includes supporting vouchers. In fact, outside groups, like Americans for Prosperity, have spent more than $10 million in the state since 2003 to elect pro-voucher candidates.
“With the influence of insider lobbyists and the well-funded national pro-privatization groups who play in Wisconsin elections, our state’s residents are beginning to have their eyes opened to the move to dismantle neighborhood public schools in favor of less accountability and fewer standards,” said Kippers.
Instead of taking millions from our public schools and handing it over to private schools, elected leaders should invest in public education. Taxpayer dollars should be used to help public schools increase parental involvement, reduce class sizes so students get more individual attention, and offer more advanced math and science courses. Elected leaders should be dedicated to the interest of our children, and not the Koch brothers.
It’s time for you to take action now! Sign our petition and tell ALEC and the Koch brothers to stop cashing in on our kids!