A recent report issued by the state Department of Public Instruction showed 75 percent of students receiving taxpayer subsidies to attend voucher schools as part of the statewide voucher program were already attending a private school.
Since becoming governor, Scott Walker cut $76 million from public education funding, and increased funding for voucher schools by almost $124 million. 97% of publicly funded students attend a public school, compared to 3% of students who attend a voucher school. Walker’s disparity in funding creates an uneven playing field for the majority of Wisconsin students.
The data highlights how severely Scott Walker and Republicans have tilted the playing field on education in favor of unaccountable voucher schools.
Walker’s decision creates two different publicly funded education systems, funded at two different levels. Wisconsin was once a national model for education, but today the state cannot afford to fund two separate educational systems and still provide a high quality education, leaving the students to suffer.
The evidence that voucher schools improve student learning is thin. Public school students consistently outperformed voucher students on statewide test scores from 2011 to 2014.
Vouchers have long been promoted as a way to give a “choice” to students who couldn’t afford private school. The reality is quite different, students already in private schools are now getting their tuition bills picked up by the taxpayers.
To make matters worse, voucher schools aren’t even accountable to the taxpayers that fund them. The schools operate under relaxed guidelines, are allowed to have unlicensed teachers, and can discriminate against students with special needs.
Walker’s budget also gives a tax break to anyone — no matter how wealthy they are — that sends their kids to private school. This isn’t creating new opportunity, its just creating a new unaccountable entitlement on the backs of the taxpayers.
“Scott Walker’s massive cuts to education spending are clear evidence he doesn’t care about the future of this state. Funneling money to unaccountable voucher schools and weakening our public school system only guarantees we’ll continue to lag behind and rank amongst the worst states in job creation,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Thursday. “Wisconsin suffers when we gut our public schools and put a strain on our budgets just to fund an unnecessary and expensive entitlement like taxpayer subsidies for the state’s wealthiest to send their children to private schools. It’s time to even the playing field and give all Wisconsin students a chance to succeed.”