Sunday, March 27, 2011

So Who Wants to Send their Kids to Voucher Schools? Rep. Robin Vos thinks you do.

Another test, another mixed report coming?:
WSJ: And state test scores to be released Tuesday, which for the first time include 10,600 Milwaukee voucher students, could suggest they are testing no better than poor students in the Milwaukee Public Schools.
This might be the last voucher test recorded, if Scott Walker gets his way.
The state required voucher students to take the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination for the first time last fall. Walker’s proposal would repeal that requirement.
So with taxpayer money on the line, and no accountability to the taxpayer in the name of “freedom,” we will never really know how voucher kids are doing. Years later, it’ll be way too late for a generation or more of kids. As for the economy; what can you do with an untrained and uneducated work force in the 21st Century? Robin Vos doesn’t care:
Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester said he wants to expand vouchers to cities such as Racine, Green Bay and Madison because “too many kids are being left behind and are literally being cast off the island.” It remains to be seen which communities would welcome vouchers. 
Hell, if conservative Utah can pass a referendum overturning a Republican passed state voucher plan (they also said the people were clamoring for it), we can in Wisconsin.

But the school problems stem from poverty, and the Republicans wrongheaded solution misses the point:
The Madison School District’s low-income population has grown considerably in the last decade, surpassing 50 percent for the first time this year.  
But unlike Milwaukee, political support for vouchers is nonexistent here. Even Michael Lancaster, superintendent of the Madison Catholic Diocese Schools, said the voucher issue “Madison doesn’t have the same issues as Milwaukee.”
Tackling poverty first would make more sense. Even choice advocates know more than Vos:
Marisa Cannata, associate director of the National Center on School Choice at Vanderbilt University (says) Charter schools tend to have more flexibility to employ alternative methods than traditional public schools but with more accountability than private schools.
Mary Bell, president of the WEAC, the state’s largest teachers union, says it’s crazy  “to privatize what has been a very successful and very stable public education system in Wisconsin.”
"Very stable" is the key takeaway here. And if vouchers werem't doing so well, that means people weren’t buying into it:
Since 2000, private school enrollment in Wisconsin has declined 16 percent, while public charter school enrollment has multiplied six fold. 
“There is good reason to think that those are connected,” said Patrick Wolf, a researcher at the University of Arkansas, which the state commissioned to conduct a five-year study on the results of the Milwaukee voucher program. The state’s Legislative Audit Bureau has questioned the study because 60 percent of voucher students returned to public schools, private schools administered different tests than public schools and individual school data was unavailable.
That's right, there's a reason 60 percent of voucher students went back to public schools, but Vos knows better. It’s no accident accountability doesn’t exist; Republicans have never watched over all the taxpayer money being thrown into the private sector. It’s even worse for parents of students who sold a bill of goods. 

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