Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Republican Plan to Expand School Choice at a cost of up to $750 million. After 20 years and $1 billion spent; lousy results.

Tone Evers finally nailed what I’ve been saying for years.

jsonline: State Superintendent Tony Evers in a memo Monday urged the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee to restore funding for public schools … "To spend hundreds of millions to expand a 20-year-old program that has not improved overall student achievement, while defunding public education, is morally wrong," Evers said in the memo.
Gov. Scott Walker’s crazy scheme to eliminate the income limits on Milwaukee Parental Choice Program has been the plan for the last 20 years. This is a nationwide con game many well intentioned Democrats have bought into. Walker just happened to be the first to openly admit what we knew all along, the wealthy deserve those vouchers. Were we supposed to believe Republicans really wanted to help minorities get a good education, when after all these years, they have done everything they can to take away their vote or portray them as “the other?”

But the point is, the program cost millions and done nothing promised.

The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program … after 20 years and spending over $1 billion, academic performance data and the enrollment history of the school choice program point to several "concerning trends," Evers said … Low-income students in Milwaukee Public Schools have higher academic achievement, particularly in math, than their counterparts in choice schools. Evers cited this year's Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts exams and the legislatively mandated University of Arkansas study, which showed significant numbers of choice students performing below average on reading and math.
It’s not popular outside Milwaukee:

Most private choice schools are dependent on public funds. Statewide, private school enrollment has declined 14%, while Milwaukee's has grown by 14%. "This government subsidy has protected Milwaukee private schools from the market forces that have led to declining private enrollment statewide," Evers wrote. "If only one in five students enrolled in a choice school pays tuition, then when do choice schools stop being private schools and become something else?"
Typical of Republican economics, their ideology justifies dramatic spending on their agenda.

Expanding the program statewide, at the current per-pupil voucher cost, would cost nearly $750 million, according to Evers. MPS' property taxes are expected to increase by several million dollars annually each of the next two years Evers said. Milwaukee private schools enroll students with disabilities at half the rate as private schools throughout Wisconsin.

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