Wisconsin Public Education Network
Press Release

Lawmakers Break Promise Not to Fund Vouchers at the Expense of Public School Students

Taxpayers around the state are furious.

By - Feb 6th, 2016 02:42 pm

SUN PRAIRIE—Public school advocates all over the state have united again around the latest partisan maneuvering at the Capitol that will have a direct negative impact on public schools. The Republican majority seems poised to break a promise made last summer that public school children wouldn’t be hurt by the expansion of the private school voucher scheme.

A last-minute amendment to Assembly Bill 751 would change the way the private school tuition entitlements are funded. Public schools would lose millions more dollars in teachers, programs and services as money comes directly out of their classrooms to pay for students who already attend private schools. Sources say the Education Committee is likely to take up that measure as early as Wednesday, Feb. 10.

This last-minute move gives education supporters little time to share their concerns about a game-changing proposal that never had a public hearing.

Another bill limiting when districts can go to referendum (in order to offset state aid cuts going to private schools) could be voted on soon. Assembly Bill 481 (and its partner Senate Bill 355) severely and negatively impact local control.

Taxpayers around the state are furious.

“All of the conversations, all of the polling, points to the fact that the people of Wisconsin do not want this. They want fully and fairly funded public schools. They do not want the failed experiments of Milwaukee forced on them,” says Jenni Hofschulte, a Milwaukee Public Schools parent. “Legislators in Madison insist on expanding [vouchers], knowing it will dilute educational opportunities for all children statewide. It’s wrong.”

Chris Hambuch-Boyle, an Eau Claire school board member, speaking as an individual said, “Districts like Eau Claire that were good stewards of our tax dollars are being penalized for that now and have no leeway to pay for these vouchers. How does this help the 875,000 kids in public schools?”

Even districts without vouchers feel the impact. Steven Sedlmayr, superintendent of the Alma School District, explained, “The tax bills are out and people are finding that the money’s going directly to kids going to private schools. Property taxes are going up because of what [Republican legislators] did. It all boils down to hurting the kids in the public schools even more to pay for students to go to private schools.”

Kathryn Carley, a parent volunteer with Green Bay Advocates for Public Education, urges other parents to hold legislators accountable for doing what’s right for children. “This brazen attempt to take away parents’ ability to support their child’s school — when the state does not —shows how willing these lawmakers are to put their own private interests above our state’s future. They strangle our budgets and rob our children of opportunities, expecting us to eventually give up the fight. Wisconsin parents are watching, and we will be voting come November.”

In Appleton, Fox Cities Advocates for Public Education (FCAPE) urged their neighbors to contact legislators. Like other advocacy groups around the state, they’re calling on legislators to reject any amendments to the special needs vouchers trailer bill (AB 751) and to vote against any bill that limits local control of local schools (like AB 481/SB 355). What’s at stake is nothing short of democracy, said Ann Muenster. “(Rep.) Robin Vos and those who will profit from robbing our public schools betray the public’s trust.”

“When people in Madison play political games with our schools, kids lose and communities lose every time,” said Wisconsin Public Education Network coordinator Heather DuBois Bourenane. “The time to speak out locally and come together as a state is now.” She urged all who agree to contact their elected officials (http://maps.legis.wisconsin.gov/) and to connect with the Network at http://WisconsinNetwork.org or by emailing hdb@WisconsinNetwork.org.

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5 thoughts on “Lawmakers Break Promise Not to Fund Vouchers at the Expense of Public School Students”

  1. jake says:

    Put campaign money in a Republicans orifice, get special interest favor out the other end.

    WI Republicans are fascists.

  2. Alene says:

    Taking away local control is the Republican mantra in Madison. The sad part about it is that they take away local control but do not manage it at the state level either. They put the control into the hands of the private sector. We may as well just hand our tax dollars over to for-profit business and call it a day. Public schools where everyone pays in to support them is democratic socialism. The people are in control, not the government. Public schools were established to promote a literate society and have been managed and regulated to accomplish that goal. There is no oversight of the voucher school system. Unlike public schools, you don’t know if your child is learning what they need to learn and should learn, and you have no say over the books they are taught from.

    Of course they have to do these things at the last minute (even though they have been planned out for a long time), because they do not want the demonstrations happening again in Madison. When people truly get to have their voices heard Republicans don’t like it. They want to simply make laws, pass them, and move on to the next one with no discussion, no hassle, and no problems. Just cram stuff down the public’s throat whether they like it or not.

  3. Barb- West Bend says:

    From the Libertarian Party Platform that David Koch ran on in 1980:

    “We advocate the complete separation of education and State government. Schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”

    Our Wisconsin Libertarian administration is dismantling public education using “funding starvation” as their MO. They take money from public schools and give it to private schools. Private schools are not accountable to we the people and these schools do not follow the same rules as public schools. They are not required to use the same tests as public schools or publish the results of testing, or they may choose to simply not test students at all. The billionaire brothers are achieving their goals by supporting politicians who will work to make their Libertarian Platform ideals a reality. Walker and associates are the Pinocchios of billionaires.

  4. AG says:

    Why should school districts get money for students that are not attending their schools? Even if the amendment passes, school districts are STILL getting money for students who are not attending their schools… just not as much. This just proves it really is all about the money and not the students for these “Public School Advocates.”

  5. Rich says:


    If I’m reading it correctly, the students participating under this — narrow? — special education path set up by this specific bill takes away the money first ($12k/yr) and only slowly restores it over the next three years (rolling average calculation) and maybe not ever all the way up to the full $12k. So every special needs student moving schools under this bill costs the school district money…as in net loss immediately, which has to be made up somewhere due to all the other revenue caps.

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