Let’s Have a Moratorium On Voucher Schools

During a talk to the community of St. Anthony’s School on Milwaukee’s south side, Governor Walker said he was interested in expanding Wisconsin’s school voucher program beyond the Milwaukee and Racine areas. The governor of course was preaching to the choir since St. Anthony’s is the largest voucher school participant in the Milwaukee area with more than 1,000 students using vouchers.

Whether you support voucher schools or oppose them as I do, you have to admit that the success of voucher school programs is highly in doubt. Reports on student achievement often shows few voucher schools exceed the public schools that they meant to compete with. And they are not held accountable to the same standards that public schools are.

My suggestion is a moratorium on future voucher schools until they are held as fully accountable for student achievement and teacher competency at the same levels as our public schools. And more importantly, stop expanding the program until we know that they are at least as successful at educating our young people as the existing school systems. Stop shortchanging public education if you don’t actually have a better product!


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16 thoughts on “Let’s Have a Moratorium On Voucher Schools

  1. Funny how of all weekends you attack Choice Schools, the very schools that literally SAVE many inner city kids people like you ignore. Where are you on crime and the things that these kids deal with everyday? Don’t see Blogging Blue reporting from the frontlines of our gun and violence issues, but you want our kids to stay trapped in unsafe, low performing schools so we can keep the same old same old. Lord forbid low income people receive quality education and free themselves. That would scare you.
    Funny you don’t mention the mighty Messmer schools that meet with great success. And we all know why. Shame on you. Accountability. Most Choice schools meet and exceed state requirements because their accredidations require so much more and the schools themselves demand more. Speak truth!
    Accountability many schools welcome it but not the burocrocacy that comes with it which choke holds districts like MPS.
    However if you think you will come into the inner city where many black children are being saved to tell them you are taking away Choice. I would love to see you try! Schools like Messmer, St. Marcus, St. Joan Antida, and schools that are well known for their emphasis on academics right now are the only hope black families have for getting their kids out of the gun riddled hood that you refuse to help us do nothing about. I know you could care less about what happens to our kids but we want a better life for our babies too and until the public schools get their districts together which is soon coming I pray, we are happy with our options. I have no doubt once Dr. Thorton starts to work WITH Choice and stops ignoring it, he will find a partnership fruitful for all.
    Attacking Choice from its weak spots will only get you crickets.
    Here in the hood, where no one cares about us as shown daily, we are quite happy with our Choice options and contrary to the lies we work hard to get rid of those schools abusing the system.

    1. Funny thing is that all of the special needs kids I work with that go to these exploiters of children end up failing and having to go back to public schools where they suddenly start to succeed. Most of my parents eschew the private schools and the ones that don’t are constantly complaining about the lack of services and support their children are getting.

  2. There is no doubt that several choice schools in Milwaukee do an outstanding job of educating our young people just as there are several MPS schools that do the same.

    But choice schools as a whole haven’t been proven superior the public schools yet nor are they held to the same requirements as public schools. In the meantime they divert monies from public education that could help improve our public schools.

    And if you had actually read what I wrote, I am not suggesting we close choice schools in Milwaukee or Racine. I am suggesting that we don’t expand the program beyond these two test school districts until they prove themselves and we have a valid measure of their success.

    Thank you for coming to Blogging Blue with your concerns.

  3. If you believe what you wrote, you must also certainly agree with an increase in compensation for the choice schools. They are dealing with the same kids as MPS at half the budget. If you don’t agree with the increase, the argument is moot.

    1. Well, that’s just outright false. The profiteer schools don’t take special ed kids and if they do, they don’t supply them with the state required Individual Education Plans. They just take the taxpayers’ dollars and house the kids until they find a way to boot them out.

      1. Or keep them on the enrollment list and continue to collect money while providing minimal service or care.

      2. Voucher schools must take all students. One of the battles behind the scenes is about the money that should follow the special ed kids, but stays with public schools. Again, if the money would follow the kids they could get the services they need.

    2. (snark alert) Whoa, I thought opening up competition in education would drive down costs while improving student achievement. You know, that free market vibe! (end of snark).

      No…I am not flat out willing to endorse increasing contributions to voucher schools. But I do support revisiting how the formula is determined and improve upon it. I don’t remember the details although I should but I never did have a good grasp on it in the first place. But I believe the public schools take a bigger loss than the voucher schools gain. If folkbum or other reader more versed in this could comment, the help would be much appreciated.

      But I do agree there should be a mechanism to review what it costs to educate our children and budget accordingly and make adjustments as necessary. And that includes increased support from Madison. Are you listening Gov. Walker?

      Unless this has changed I remember complaints about voucher students returning to MPS but the finances stayed at the voucher school. This was the result of paying the voucher money in the fall. To me if a voucher student moves the money should go with them. In reality this is probably impractical. But if this is still the policy, I think the voucher money should be allotted at the beginning of each semester or quarter so payments match student enrollments a bit more accurately.

  4. Re students with disabilities — in the currently-existing voucher program, the “choice” schools are not, in fact, required to have IEPs. “Choice” students with disabilities end up losing ALL their federal rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Put that together with the fact that voucher schools aren’t required to take students with disabilities at all, and you wind up with the ridiculous disparity that voucher schools have under 2% students with disabilities, while the percentage in the MPS has climbed to around 20% as voucher schools pick and choose whom to accept, while the public schools must take all comers.

    Part of the upcoming voucher expansion attempt will include a return of the special-needs voucher proposal, an ALEC-sourced piece of legislation that failed last session. Like the current vouchers, any student who uses a special-needs voucher would also lose their rights and protections under IDEA — there’s a whole lot else wrong with the proposal as well. A group of parents of students with disabilities is organizing now — come check us out on Facebook, Stop Special Needs Vouchers, to learn more.

  5. Parochial schools are the perfect testing ground for corporations advocating the ne profit center, charter schools financed through public taxpayer vouchers. They have traditionally shown better SAT scores at much lower per student cost…some less than half the per student cost of public schools. But the overall goal is to completely overtake the public school system with voucher supported Charter schools.
    A better plan is to allow tax credits for those sending children to private schools and get the bureaucracy out of it as much as possible. This gives parents a choice to combine a private or religious culture with their child’s education, which seems to be one of the main drawbacks in current public school curricula.

    1. Let’s keep in mind that voucher schools are not the same as charter schools. Anyone can start up a voucher school and do what they will.

      Charter schools have to get a charter from a approving organization. In Milwaukee that includes the City of Milwaukee, UW-Milw, Marquette and MPS itself. Charter schools have to live up to their promise in order to have their charter’s renewed. If not they are closed down. One of the most prominent charter schools in MKE was run by Howard Fuller and he admitted it was far harder than he anticipated. I don’t remember if it was actually shut down but he was considering doing so.

      And the costs/success rates of charter schools are also all over the board as well.

      As for vouchers being more cost effective…that may an illusion since they often don’t have the same requirements to meet including teacher certification, testing and reporting. It is VERY important that all schools receiving public monies be held responsible for similar reporting so we can do fair and accurate comparisons on success rates.

  6. I meant the Parochial schools have traditionally shown better test results per student cost. Of course, as religious vocations have waned in North America, those costs have increased–though they are still lower. A significant reason is that Parochial schools don\’t have to take every student who applies and have a much easier time dismissing recalcitrant students. However, for Gov. Walker, a parochial school is a prime example of a successful voucher program. Whether the parochial schools continue to have the autonomy they do while accepting vouchers remains to be seen. Look at what happened with the Insurance programs for religious institutions, though modified after heavy protest. Vouchers are a bad idea for many reasons. Especially when you consider that tax credits could acheive better results with much less bureaucracy, strings and overall cost.

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