The Monona Grove Board of Education, building principals and district office administrators, and teachers (Monona Grove Education Association) join together to urge legislators to oppose any expansion of the voucher program for schools.
Perhaps the most important reason to oppose voucher expansion is that research of the 22-year voucher experiment in Milwaukee shows student performance is no better overall than that of their peers in public schools. In fact, recent data from Milwaukee shows lower performance in both reading and math for students in voucher schools. Gov. Walker has set forth the goal of “transforming education” in Wisconsin. Any objective examination of the voucher program must conclude that it is clearly not transformative.
Voucher schools have not been held to the same standards as public schools, which may explain in part why they are not performing as well. While the governor has stated his intention of applying the state’s accountability system to voucher schools, this process is described as one to be phased in over five or more years. Public schools are to be held accountable now for their report cards, tying some funding to performance, while resources are expended to allow voucher schools to catch up.
Public schools accept all students, regardless of level of need, and provide them with the service of appropriately trained personnel and other resources, as well as due process protection. Public school boards are locally elected and adhere to open meeting and public records laws. These requirements do not apply to voucher schools, even though they receive public dollars.
The use of public tax dollars to fund religious and other private schools drains resources from public schools, increasing their financial hardship as they work to meet the needs of the majority of students. Voucher students do not leave their resident schools in numbers that necessarily support equivalent reduction in staff. Thus the costs incurred by the public schools do not go down proportionately with their lost revenue. Rather, meeting the needs of remaining students becomes a greater challenge with fewer financial resources.
Public schools throughout the state are working to implement new initiatives to better address the increasingly wide range of student needs, as well as the increased accountability measures such as the educator effectiveness system and new assessments, with diminished resources. The diversion of dollars to the unsuccessful voucher program is counter-productive.
Siphoning of funds from public schools to pay for private schools will mean higher property taxes in the end, as school districts struggle for revenue. Locally elected school boards will be forced to raise property taxes since a portion of their state aid will be sent to a voucher school without accountability or oversight by an elected school board or local taxpayers.
The state of Wisconsin has a moral and legal obligation to provide public schools. An expansion of the voucher system undermines that obligation and the commitment to our children as well as to the future of our economy. Our public schools have always been a strong part of Wisconsin’s tradition. The goal of “transforming education” requires significant investment and collaboration with educators. The expansion of the school voucher program defeats this goal.
Monona Grove Board of Education
Monona Grove Principals and District Office Administrators
Monona Grove Education Association
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