Gordon Hintz
Press Release

Fully Funding Public Education Means No Private Voucher School Expansion

"Until recently, Wisconsin was known as a place where legislators from both sides of the aisle had always made public education a top priority."

By - May 18th, 2015 12:22 pm

MADISON- Tomorrow, the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) will take up education funding in Governor Walker’s 2015-17 state budget.  Since taking control of the Legislature and Governor’s office, Republicans have enacted policies that have forced Wisconsin classrooms to absorb over $1 billion in state aid reductions.  In advance of the JFC taking up education funding, Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) released the following statement:

Until recently, Wisconsin was known as a place where legislators from both sides of the aisle had always made public education a top priority.  This once lead to Wisconsin being a national leader in education, and one of the number one reasons why people came to our state to raise their families. 

“While I have heard rumors of a proposed ‘fix’ in the budget, I don’t see any sort of evidence that Republicans have reprioritized their treatment of public schools.  Restoring this year’s $150 cut just brings Wisconsin classrooms back to zero.  But that is only part of the picture.

“The budget also proposes increasing payments to private schools, and for the first time, public schools will have less state aid for every dollar that a new voucher student is given.  While the Republicans may claim that public schools are a priority, they are currently floating an amendment to the Governor’s budget would take as much as $48 million from our public schools and give the money directly to private schools. 

“It’s not difficult to read between the lines and see where Republicans’ true priorities lie.  At a time when the state is not providing enough aid to the public schools it is constitutionally required to support, giving tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to private schools should be completely out of the question. 

“Any sort of increase in funding to a second, private school system puts Wisconsin on an unsustainable path that doesn’t just threaten our public schools, but many other priorities as well.  Because public schools are prevented from making up for this lost aid through property taxes, this means additional cuts to school districts’ budgets and less opportunity for Wisconsin’s kids.

“We know what happens in states that don’t invest in education, and it’s not a pretty picture.  Wisconsinites are demanding that the Republicans in the Legislature don’t just restore one cut, but stop expanding the voucher program and give our public classrooms a raise. So when my colleagues across the aisle claim to fund or ‘fix’ Wisconsin’s education, remind them that means no voucher expansion as well.”

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8 thoughts on “Fully Funding Public Education Means No Private Voucher School Expansion”

  1. Terry Ott says:

    I cannot speak for the public schools’ performance around the whole state, but in Milwaukee it certainly appears that more money is NOT golng to move the schools forward re: improving their “output”. We pay outrageously high property taxes and have obscenely low student achievement scores.

    Come to us with a proposal to spend more taxpayer $$ on public education in the metro Milwaukee area AS PART OF A STRATEGY THAT INCLUDES MAJOR SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE in the model (yes, education is a business when it comes to the financial aspects), and I will listen. Until then, don’t expect me to help you turn up the flow of water with the hose pointed directly at the rat hole.

    I don’t care one whit about whether money is diverted away from public schools as long as it goes (1) for education of our children, and (2) goes disproportionately to those institutions that can point to a track record of high performance and/or a credible game plan for improvement.

    I’m not in the education field myself, but I my wife was, as a professor at UWM. She quit in frustration because so many public schooled students struggled to write sentences on their assignments and tests, and had very little idea about how to study effectively.

    Is it waste? Is it overstaffing of ilwaukee public education (headquarters/administrative) bureaucracy? Is it underskilled or uninspired teachers (probably not for the most part). I do not believe it is inadequate funding.

  2. PMD says:

    So it’s a conundrum. On the one hand, you have what is, overall, a public school system that is performing poorly. On the other hand, you have voucher schools that feature little oversight and do not produce better results than public schools (and the competition has not led to better public schools). More voucher schools is not the answer. So what is? Building on successful charter schools?

  3. Tim says:

    “We pay outrageously high property taxes”

    Now, if you’re typically middle or upper-middle class & own a home that costs more than $120,000… that’s absolutely true. However, so many of the homes in the city of Milwaukee aren’t assessed even half as much & their property taxes are dirt cheap.

    Now, the property tax system shoves out the middle & upper-middle class from Milwaukee… aren’t those the people that successful cities are looking to attract?

    If Milwaukee can’t attract a more diverse student body, we’ll stay in this rut of whole schools populated by disadvantaged & struggling students. You’d be a fool to believe that in Milwaukee, of all places, we’ll be able to solve one of the great problems of our time… cheaply educating students without the social/financial/parental resources necessary to easily succeed.

  4. Joe says:

    PMD…..to your point about “better results,” which results are you referring to? Bonds mentioned a report in a UM article last week or the week before. Looking at testing, the results for MPCP schools were similar and sometimes lower. Graduation rate was significantly higher, though. As an employer, are you going to take the talented dropout over the student with the diploma? Probably not.
    MPCP is taking the same kids with the same economic problems as the public schools have but are getting them through graduation and doing so on a budget that is FAR less per pupil than any public school. That seems like a major victory that should be expanded. Employers want entry level applicants that can prove they can behave well enough and perform well enough to get through. Students who can’t get into the “public” schools like King, Reagan, Riverside, MSL, and School of the Arts get stuck at Custer or North or others. Why are the Democrats so dedicated to mandating that these kids get stuck in low-performing schools and have to sit alongside criminals in their classes? I’ve been in the classroom in MPS as a teacher and have seen the disruption the criminals cause and the frustration of so many of the good kids who have no options. Giving these students an option for a better environment might just be the key to unlocking their full potential.
    High performing “public” schools in MPS have an application process and cherry pick students. 220 has less oversight and accountability than voucher schools. Open enrollment is a tool for near suburbs to recruit city talent to athletic programs to compete with private school powerhouses in sports. In all of these cases, though, the critical mass of students get stuck. MPCP gives those kids options.

  5. PMD says:

    If we are establishing credentials I also taught in MPS. At Multiplex North Division from 2004 to 2006.

    From last year in the Journal Sentinel: “On average, students in Milwaukee’s private-school voucher program still performed lower than students in the city’s traditional public school system.” And we’ve had choice schools here since what 1990? Competition was supposed to make all schools better and it hasn’t. There’s little oversight of these schools and many of them teach nonsense like creationism. I’m not sure academics like that impress a lot of prospective employers.

  6. Joe says:

    Tim, you hit on an interesting point about taxes that drive out middle class. Taxes affect behavior. Why would someone move into the city of Milwaukee in one of the nicer neighborhoods when they can move into an adjacent area that has the same type of neighborhood but has lower taxes. For example, why buy in the city near WI Lutheran HS when you can get the same neighborhood a few blocks south in West Allis and pay 1/2 to 2/3 of the taxes?

  7. Joe says:

    PMD….your point is valid. One would think that scores would be better than they are. However, any adult with a job knows that your academic performance has little to do with employability. Employers look at whether or not the diploma or the degree was earned. I work with people who were C/D students and they outperform me who was an A student. Life is more than test scores and grades. Giving the kids an opportunity to learn how to function in a normal society is more valuable than the Pythagorean Theorem. That opportunity is robbed from students who get stuck in the lower MPS schools. Why are you and other people who are against vouchers so dedicated limiting their opportunity? The lower performing schools weren’t doing better before MPCP, so it’s not a matter of money. What is it?

  8. PMD says:

    Life is definitely more about test scores and grades, I completely agree.

    I am not dedicated to limiting the opportunity of poor kids. Easy on the rhetoric there Joe. As I said I taught in MPS, at a charter school inside of North Division. Also, I already admitted MPS is a troubled district in need of serious help. I am looking for solutions. I just don’t think voucher schools are the answer.

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