Steven Walters
The State of Politics

Candidates Battle Over School Funding

GOP and Democratic legislative candidates offer dueling statistics. Who’s right?

By - Jul 5th, 2016 11:33 am
Scott Fitzgerald

Scott Fitzgerald

You’ll get very tired of hearing this, as candidates for the Legislature ask for your vote: Democrats say aid to public K-12 schools has been cut. But Republicans say those same schools have been – and will continue to be – treated well.

It’s very confusing, since leaders of both parties selectively use numbers to help them – they hope – score political points. Hopefully, the following summary will help voters like you.

First, state Department of Public Instruction figures show an increase in total per-pupil revenue – from all sources of cash – over a five-year period: from $12,837 in 2009-10 to $13,039 in 2014-15. That’s an increase of 1.6 percent.

But Democrats cite the change over the last four – and not five – years. If you look at that change, $13,211 was spent per pupil in 2010 and $13,039 in 2014-15. That’s a 1.3 percent decrease.

What are legislative leaders saying?

“K-12 education is a top priority for Assembly Republicans and its reflected in the state budget,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says. Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators wrote that budget.

Funding for public K-12 schools will rise to $5.44 billion – a 3.8 percent one-year boost – in 2016-17, according to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

That makes school aids the most expensive single program paid for with general-fund taxes, Vos adds. Another way to say it: $1 out of every $3 collected in general-fund taxes this year is going to public schools.

But Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling and Democratic candidates refute Republicans with these numbers:

*If you consider only state aid to K-12 public schools, it went down over a four-year period – from $5.3 billion in 2010-11 to $5.2 billion in 2014-15. That’s a drop of 1.6 percent.

*During that same period, property taxes levied to pay for K-12 schools went up – from $4.69 billion to $4.75 billion. That’s an increase of 1.3 percent. Part of that trend is the widespread passage of local referendums to maintain buildings and classroom programs.

But Democrats say the biggest thing harming K-12 school aid now is the Choice program, which allows public school students to attend private schools with taxpayer-funded vouchers. When it was limited to Milwaukee in the 2010-11 school year, Choice cost a net of $80.6 million in state funds, according to LFB. This year, because Choice was expanded first to Racine and then statewide, and income limits changed to make more middle-class residents eligible, it will cost a net of $157.2 million.

That’s $157.2 million that could – and should – be going to K-12 public schools, Shilling and other Democrats say.

“Our local schools, students and taxpayers are being punished by Republican cuts designed to siphon more money to their special interest allies,” Shilling says. “As a result of Republican school cuts, thousands of hardworking Wisconsin families are being forced to pay higher property taxes while the wealthy receive new private school tax breaks and subsidies.”

One more set of numbers Shilling uses: Since Republicans took control of the Capitol in 2011, per-pupil state aid for Choice students has gone up by $911, while per-pupil state aid for public school K-12 students has gone down by $70 per pupil.

That’s a “massive funding disparity,” Shilling charges. “Why should public school students be forced to sacrifice in order to subsidize their peers in private institutions?”

Any response, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald?

“While Choice participants make up 3.2% of total K-12 pupil enrollment, they only make up around 2% of the total state cost of K-12 education,” the Senate leader said in a statement. “Perhaps Democrats will keep these figures in mind the next time they want to attack the small percentage of Wisconsin families trying to provide a better educational opportunity for their children.”

Republican leaders also note that state aid for each Choice student averaged $7,353 in the last school year. That’s less than the $13,039 in average per-pupil spending reported by the Department of Public Instruction for that year.

And, if you’re head isn’t hurting already, one more set of numbers: U.S. Census Bureau figures say per-pupil spending in Wisconsin on basic instructional programs was $11,186. That was 1.6 percent higher than the national average that year.

Now, you know more about state school aids than that candidate who will soon be knocking on your door.

Steven Walters is a senior producer for the nonprofit public affairs channel WisconsinEye. Contact him at

66 thoughts on “The State of Politics: Candidates Battle Over School Funding”

  1. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    Really sad to see Steve get suckered by GOP spin here, in the name of “keeping it objective.” The debate is how much STATE money is going into schools per student.

    FACT: Voucher schools get significantly more money per student than public K-12 students do.

    FACT: The vouchers have received a notable increase in state aid per student the last 5 years, while publics have received less.

    FACT: It is dishonest to compare K-12 total cost of instruction with only the state cost of a voucher. Provate schools use donations and tuition to pump more resources into their schools.

    Sad that Steve would throw his arms up in the air and play the “I dunno?” game. He does know better

  2. AG says:

    Jay, please support your “facts” because I find the following.

    1. Voucher schools average $7,353 from the state per student. I don’t know what the state average is, but Milwaukee gets about $8500 per student between general aid/equalization, per pupil aid, transfer aid, transportation aid, school library aid, high poverty aid, etc. Racine school district is in the $7600-$7700 range. That’s ONLY state funding.

    2. Even with the increase, Voucher schools get much less tax payer money. What’s unfair is that Choice schools get so much less.

    3. It is dishonest to try to include donations and tuition money because that is not tax payer money.

  3. Vincent Hanna says:

    Do choice schools make that information public, how much they spend per student via donations and tuition?

  4. happyjack27 says:

    3) It is dishonest to try to include donations and tuition money because that is not tax payer money.

    No it is not – it is dishonest NOT to include it. We’re looking at cost efficiency here, right? So if those donations and tuition went to public school instead of private school. The question is how efficiently and effectively does private vs public educate their students, _regardless of the source of the money_. ’cause that’s presumably where you want to put your $.

    Look, if Bob gives Joe $5, and Sam $6, and then Alice gives Joe $10, and then Joe turns that $15 into $17, while Sam turns the $6 into $7, who would you rather invest your money in, Sam or Joe? The answer is Sam.

  5. AG says:

    But HappyJack, we’re talking efficiency of public taxpayer money…

  6. happyjack27 says:

    Yes, would invest an additional $1 of taxpayer money in Joe or Sam, knowing that Sam has a higher rate of return?

  7. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    No, AG. You don’t get to pull the “non-tax dollars don’t count” game. The voucher schools are using that state subsidy to help add to their coffers, and if we’re going to compare costs, we are comparing ALL costs. And it begs the question as to why vouchers get a higher subsidy than public K-12 schools.

    In addition, non-voucher students at private schools get a tax break for their tuition, AND get a tax break for the property taxes theybpay for the public school. Oh, and may we remind you how GOPs like Ron Johnson are trying to exempt vouchers from ADA regulations and other requirements that public schools have to follow.

    When it comes to the voucher system, can you say “separate but equal”, “costly taxpayer ripoff?

  8. AG says:

    Leave it to anti-choice people to somehow convince themselves that $7500ish of tax money is more than $13/14,000 of tax payer money.

    Why do we care what the non tax payer money is? The whole point of choice schools is that it provides a choice for parents and doesn’t cost tax payers more in the process (in fact, saves thousands per student). Everything else is just to convince yourselves that it’s a bad idea. Which… for the life of me I can’t fathom why.

  9. Happy jack says:

    I guess you haven’t answered my question. If you were in a position of choice, that you knew would affect the taxpayer – and people’s kids – would you invest in Sam or joe?

  10. Vincent Hanna says:

    Who is school choice really for? If I remember correctly the contention was that poor kids deserved better schools, and choice was for them. But that isn’t really the case ( as one-time supporter Polly Williams makes clear ( Are parents in Milwaukee demanding them? Not that I am aware of, and there are reasons to believe low-income parents aren’t looking for a choice-based system (

    So if it’s not about helping poor kids and it’s not because parents are demanding them, why does choice exist? To eliminate the power of teachers unions and MPS. It’s all political.

  11. Michael Schwister says:

    @ Happy jack, Really? There is a fatal flaw in your understanding of “investment”. Children are not a commodity, a business or an object for your fantasy. Grow up and listen to the academics of our society instead of your radio. Obviously you were one of the kids that your family chose to not invest in education.

  12. Alene says:

    Regardless of how the money is doled out, it’s the same old game Republicans play. They take money away from something and then over a period of years give it back to make themselves look good. Hey, we are increasing funding, so we’re the good guys. They take money away from Tech Schools, then gradually give it back through programs to teach unemployed people skills. If they had left the programs alone to begin with, those people would have been out there working with their skills years sooner. That’s one more game they play with people’s lives. Republicans aren’t the only ones playing that game. I’ve seen the Democrats do it too. How about we leave the programs alone from now on so we can have a skilled work force. Same goes for public education. Leave it alone so we can have well educated kids. If you can afford to send your kids to private school, great for you. Most people can’t and it is wrong to make taxpayers pay for non-public education.

  13. happyjack27 says:

    Michael, you’re preaching to the choir. Only reasoning I was speaking like that was to explain Jake’s point #3.

  14. Dave says:

    “(W)hy does choice exist? To eliminate the power of teachers unions and MPS. It’s all political.”

    Or to make the public pay for unaccountable private education where the children can learn about the “perils” of homosexuality and that the earth is 6000 years old. Extra bonus for when tax payer money goes to big time GOP donors who open schools. See Gus Ramirez.

  15. daniel golden says:

    Over 70% of choice monies are now going to people who previously had funded their students at these schools themselves, according to the legislative reference bureau. I went to private schools for much of grade and high school, but my father would never have expected other taxpayers to pay my tuition at the expense of public schools. There is an underlying mantra in all Republican policy-any public institution, particularly with union employees, must be crushed. From water utilities to public schools, every public institution should be privatized. The “union thugs” that are Scott Walkers public school teachers are much to “uppity” for the extreme capitalists that are running our Wisconsin government in these sad days.

  16. M says:

    There actually is much money to be made from the corporatized-education industrial complex. That includes in nonstop testing and related test prep, high-paid “education consultants” (where much of Mark Zuckerburg’s $100 million gift to Newark was squandered) as well as charter and voucher school operators. One way that for-profit and even nonprofit operators can increase their cash flow is by hiring non-union teachers who are paid less. Some don’t even need degrees.

    Another way shrewd operators can fleece taxpayers is by enrolling students, keeping them through a cutoff date in September, and then collecting for students even after they dump some back into the public school system.

    Some charter schools have good programs. However, the system for funding private education in Wisconsin is highly unaccountable. It’s rife for exploitation–and the students are the losers.

    I am waiting to hear any self-appointed legislative public-education reformers say anything that indicates the slightest knowledge about education and how to improve it. The only thing takeover schemes may improve are those legislators’ campaign coffers. The privatizing education industry pumps plenty of money into lobbying.

  17. Vincent Hanna says:

    Yeah consultants in Newark made more than $20 million so they did quite well for themselves.

    I would like to hear much more from the reformers as well M. Have Darling, Kooyenga, Abele, and other reformers said much of anything about what models they are following and what they believe is the best way to improve educational outcomes in MPS? I get the feeling Darling and Kooyenga don’t really care as they are conservative suburban legislators. They’ll support the takeover and let others handle the details.

  18. Andy says:

    So just to confirm, everyone here would rather spend over $13,000 to dictate what type of education someone else’s child gets rather than spend $7500 and letting them decide for themselves?

  19. Vincent Hanna says:

    It’s that simple AG? A or B, nothing else to it?

  20. Andy says:

    It’s as simple as: MPS has few good education opportunities and getting the chance to have your child part of one of those few opportunities is difficult. Thus, giving parents a choice on where to send their own children is great, especially if it does not cost tax payers extra (or in fact saves thousands).

    It’s not your child, let the parents decide.

  21. Vincent Hanna says:

    Choice is great. That’s it? All of the other comments and questions here, and all you can say is “choice is great?”. And you don’t even have kids right?

    Again, AG, who is choice really for? If it’s not for poor kids, and if parents aren’t demanding a choice system, who is it for?

  22. Andy says:

    I’ve tried to respond to most of the concerns here but the website seems to be filtering my comments under the “AG” name… I’m not going through all of them all again. But most of these fears are pretty unfounded and irrational. And I still fail to understand why these people want to decide where my kids should go to school and what type of school I want them to go to.

    Where did you get that it isn’t for poor kids? Most of the progam is for low income families. And how are parents not demanding choice schools with you have tens of thousands of students enrolled? Parents can easily just not sign up if they don’t want to use them.

  23. happyjack27 says:

    actually it is costing taxpayers quite a bit. something like 70% of the students _were already in private school_. so it’s just a multi-thousand dollar handout to parent who clearly could already afford private school. it’s essentially giving our tax dollars away to the upper class.

  24. happyjack27 says:

    “So just to confirm, everyone here would rather spend over $13,000 to dictate what type of education someone else’s child gets rather than spend $7500 and letting them decide for themselves?”

    You clearly haven’t been paying attention.

  25. Andy says:

    It’s great to know that a family of four making 70k a year are upper class!

    And yes, I’ve noticed you and others trying to justify making $7500 greater than $13,000… but you’re living in a strange alternate world if you’ve convinced yourself it’s true.

  26. happyjack27 says:

    you’re living in a strange alternative world with a bunch of invisible straw men that you talk to and seem to confuse with us.

  27. gregory johnson says:

    The biggest voucher scam is taxpayers paying for private business religious school agendas.

  28. happyjack27 says:

    don’t know about you but i’m not happy about my tax $’s being used to indoctrinate children with creationism. i’d rather not be complicit in destroying our greatest resource (the human mind) .

  29. Andy says:

    FINALLY we get a few people to admit the real problem. I’m glad you both finally revealed your bigotry and ignorance. I mean, tolerance and understanding, except when it comes to Christianity. Am I right?? I guess we’re change COEXIST to COEXIS.

  30. happyjack27 says:

    Talking to your invisible friends again, i see.
    Don’t need to post here for them to hear you. I’m pretty sure you can just think it and they’ll hear.

  31. Vincent Hanna says:

    AG why is it unfair and illogical for people to question taxpayer funds going to private, religious schools that teach creationism? You act like you’ve never heard anything so outrageous, yet you constantly complain here about public funding of PP.

  32. happyjack27 says:

    Personally, I’m not against that, so long as the rule is applied fairly, rather than just making special exceptions for certain religions ( which of course, isn’t bigoted at all (). I’ve wanted to start a private school that teaches Pastafarianism ( ) and apply to be part of the school choice system. Evolution and creationism should be taught side by side along with the equally scientific view that His NNoodliness started the universe by creating a mountain, some trees, and a midget. And that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.

  33. Andy says:

    Vincent, I was avoiding bringing up that comparison… but since you just did, I have to question people’s priorities that we push for choice to take the life of unborn children but we don’t want to provide choice regarding where to send our children to school. I guess choice is only ok if it’s a choice that agrees with people who feel a particular way about certain subjects.

    In addition, it also largely serves to prove how ignorant some people are regarding the education plans of most voucher schools. That they’d have a desire to end the program that gives many kids opportunities just because a few of the schools teach creationism. Where are our concerns about things like reading, writing, math, critical thinking, etc? Studies have shown that creationism being taught in schools (it is also taught in a surprising number of public schools despite the law banning it) has little effect on people’s beliefs. But this isn’t really about one chapter of one subject taught during a short period of time in the education process… this is a general prejudice against Christianity.

  34. happyjack27 says:

    Wanted to teach people Science and not have ignorant people confuse them on what science is is not prejudice against Christianity unless you mean to assert the premise that Christianity is innately unscientific and irrational. In which case, you said it, not me.

    In any case, prejudice or not, it is imperative that we teach our children rational thinking and scientific values, and keep them away from false who false authorities that will irreparably damage our children’s understanding of the , especially when that is done _in place of_ teaching them about basic science and scientific thinking.

    If that is “prejudice”, then I am prejudice, and always will be, and no amount of pejorative labeling will ever change that.

  35. happyjack27 says:

    Prejudice against “Christianity”?! Don’t flatter yourself. Why would science give a crap about religion, not to mention one particular religion. It’s not even in the same ballpark. The whole notion is absurd. Yes, I’m prejudice against your purple dragon because I show through repeated experiment that gravity works down. Give me a break. I really don’t give a crap about your purple dragon. He’s just not that interesting.

    Oh I’m sorry I’m venting. But really… prejudice against christianity? Give me a break with your little persecution complex.

  36. Andy says:

    If you think that’s how they teach science then you’re again showing your ignorance to go along with your bigotry.

  37. happyjack27 says:

    AG they teach creationism by the very premise – that’s not ignorance or bigotry, that’s the f*ckin PREMISE!

  38. Vincent Hanna says:

    That new creationist museum in Kentucky suggests that 6,000 years ago (that’s how old the world is) humans and dinosaurs walked the Earth together and lived side-by-side. Some choice schools teach that in science class. That is bonkers, and if believing that schools funded by taxpayers should not be teaching that in science class makes me a bigot, then I am happy to be a bigot.

  39. gregory johnson says:

    Actual numbers are over 85% of voucher schools are religious predominantly financially failed Catholic schools. 75% of the alleged “poor” children already attended these schools on their own dime, we just picked up the tab as taxpayers now. Promoting private.religious businesses should never be done by taxpayers. Philanthropy and donations from people of these faiths should be the norm. As soon as tax money supports one religious agenda it is going against others.

  40. happyjack27 says:

    But but but Vincent, they also teach math and reading!


    You always write very rational and well spoken comments, Vincent, and I’ve found myself more often than once looking for a “like” button.

    I am honored to accept you into Greg and mine’s ever expanding “bigot” club.

  41. Vincent Hanna says:

    Thank you Jack. I am happy to be a member of that club. Greg’s comment above is also worthy of a “like.”

  42. Andy says:

    Vincent and Jack, do either of you know how few voucher schools teach creationism? Do you know how many of those few teach it exclusively and don’t also teach evolution? If creationism was the real reason you’re against voucher schools, why not push for a requirement of voucher schools be that they exclusively teach evolution? Or here’s an idea… take all the tax money you’re saving from voucher schools and take a small portion of that to have a public school teacher go in to teach evolution for that one unit of that one subject. We’d still make out like bandits while allowing people to decide for themselves what sort of education they want.

    I’d certainly rather my child go to many faith based schools and have me teach them about evolution than put them through the disaster that we call MPS.

    Do you even care that whether it’s taught or not has little effect on what a child ends up believing?

    Greg, your 75% included all of 325 students in the state. I also find it interesting that you and others put the word poor in quotations when it comes to a conversation about voucher schools but when we talk about other topics, such as full medicaid expansion, people at basically this same income level supposedly can’t afford the $30 monthly payment for ACA coverage.

  43. gregory johnson says:

    The issue should be religious voucher schools which are private businesses. Why should I pay money to promote ANY religious agenda? Shouldn’t that be done voluntarily by people who support whatever faith is involved? A certain small suburban Catholic school which failed financially and didn’t pay taxes now rents that building to a different voucher school which doesn’t pay taxes. This is how weeds grow. In 1990 when the first voucher school arrived on the scene in this area a black friend of mine told me his opinion of these ventures. He said follow the money. And boy was he right. There is a pot of taxpayer gold just sitting there and religious zealots have and are All under the guise of the parent (s) has the choice. In my opinion, the customer who is paying should have a choice. And as a taxpayer, I don’t.

  44. Andy says:

    Greg, if you think these churches and organizations are making money of voucher students you’re mistaken. Most of these schools lose money for each student and are instead supported by their larger organizations.

    It’s also a problem that you think you’re the customer here… not to mention your view of people of faith as “zealots.” I can’t believe you are all so open with your bigotry and hatred. I literally don’t know what to say to it…

  45. gregory johnson says:

    I’m pretty old and I could name probably 25 Catholic schools that closed because of financial failure, i.e., because parishes no longer chose to support that endeavor. Many have bounced back with new life strictly with voucher money. The best example being Messmer which closed in the early 1980s. It now has a high school and elementary school which feeds into the high school. I have never heard of a current student paying their own tuition. They all receive taxpayer vouchers. What percent of these students are actually Catholic? Unknown, because they won’t tell you that this Catholic work is really missionary work which generally is performed with voluntary donations. Take a short walk around some of these schools. Upgraded windows, furnaces, air conditioning, even sand blasted bricks. All draining money from public education. And after the 3rd Friday of September they unload the “students” they don’t want and keep the money. So don’t say they don’t make money. It’s a shell game promoted by Republicans who want to kill public education.

  46. Happyjack27 says:

    Taxpayer money should not go to parochial schools, period. Fix that problem, well revisit. But this isn’t a negotiation. You don’t get any “points” for not using taxpayer money to fund parochial schools. That’s expected.

    As regard stats – I haven’t seen any statistics about any kind of deep or meaningful understanding of science in America, and at this pony I’m skeptical that any exist. The only stats I’ve seen are woefully shallow surveys that don’t examine any kind of meaningful conprehension if the scientific process or the philosophy of science. And as if that weren’t enough, Americans performed absolutely horribly on even the superficial questions. More than half the country doesn’t even understand the very simple concept of evolution.

    If the numbers show anything, they show an absolute failure of science education across the board, in iur country. And it’s not that it’s “hard to teach”. Other countries do way better.

    Now specifically on the effects of teaching bulahit in place if science. I don’t need a survey to tell me the consequences of that. Indeed, had a survey showed happy results, I could only conclude that it was not only wrong, but fundamentally flawed in its methodology.

    If a school fails to teach linear algebra, and then test the students on “linear algebra” and find it to be just fine, the only logical conclusion one can come to is that the makers of the test don’t know the first thing about linear algebra. Which serves only to demonstrate then ubiquity of the problem.

    And finally, in addition to all this, a students day is broken up into segments of time together totally a finite and generally fixed amount of time. Every hour spent on bullshit is an hour NOT spend on teaching kids things that can seriously better their lives. So yes, I have a problem with taking that away from our children. Maybe you think that’s fine for your kid (if you have ’em), but the problem is here that one day my kid (I don’t have any – this is hypothetical) is going to have to see your kid for advice on a medical problem, and if he doesn’t understand basic evolution – which gave rise to our entire biological makeup and all of its consequences, his judgement is going to be seriously impaired, an that’s going to effect my (hypothetical) kid, and I have a problem with that.

  47. Andy says:

    So just to clarify, you have a big problem with Messmer. You don’t like that it’s Catholic, you don’t like that they educate non-Catholic students, you don’t like that they have donors, you don’t like that they have upgraded facilities, and you confuse missionary work with the MISSION to serve the community.

    It is telling that you didn’t once mention the education of the students. You don’t care that it costs tax payers almost half the tax money to educate a student there. You failed to recognize the 98% graduation rate that is almost DOUBLE that of MPS. Nothing was said about the fact that 85% of their graduates go on to four year schools. I guess that isn’t very telling, since you already gave us your motivations.

    You would sacrifice all that success for the sake of your bigotry and prejudice thoughts. Messmer doesn’t even violate Jack and Vincent’s creationism concerns…

    Schools don’t exist to pay administrators, to own buildings, or to support unions. Schools exist in order to educate children. Messmer does an astoundingly good job of this and does it at half the cost to tax payers. Take your intolerance back to the comment section of the Shepard Express, we don’t have room for people like you in a tolerant society.

  48. Andy says:

    Jack, I wish I had more time to respond to your comment, because there’s a lot of fun things in it. But what I liked most was that you’re worried about your kids seeing a doctor who somehow made it through medical school believing in creationism when we can barely get half of MPS kids to graduate high school.

  49. Happyjack27 says:

    As Gregory explained quite well (and he’s FAR from the first!), separation of church and state must be absolute.

  50. gregory johnson says:

    I have never had anyone come up with a legitimate reason why taxpayers should be stuck funding private religious businesses. If the idea is so sound Catholics should be promoting their faith by doing what they did 25 years ago. Pay their own tuitions. The idea that these schools don’t spend as much per pupil is ludicrous at best. Add up the amount from the parish, the donated money, the taxpayer money and the fact that teachers in these schools wish to work for less to promote the religious aspects and I would venture to say they are comparable. And I still call it missionary work as they perform the same services in 3rd and 4th world countries. Religious indoctrination while handing out food, water, clothing etc. You may call it their mission but I shouldn’t have to pay for it.

  51. happyjack27 says:

    You know what they call a doctor who graduated last in their class? “Doctor”.

    Look if my kid goes to see a doctor and I had a choice between that doctor understanding how the body works and thinking that god will provide, I’d chose the former. You talk about choice – I’d like to have that choice. Right now it’s a crapshoot. Well, not so much so – most doctors are atheists. Probably pretty hard to remain a theist after learning how fragile the hums body is.

    In any case if you break it down to that simple choice, the answer is obvious.

    Yes I want more kids to graduate. But I fail to se how teaching then B.S. when they actually could be learning something is going to help them.

    So maybe there this one parochial school that’s not that bad – frankly in skeptical of even that. Does not all the other data still say: hey, maybe on balance this is a horrible idea?

  52. Andy says:

    Jack, thoughtful questions you are bringing up. I whole heardtedly support your right to choose your doctor (I’m not even going to make an ACA joke here, I promise!). Unfortunately you have it backwards, most doctors believe in god. Fun fact, a pew research study found atheist doctors were more likely to hasten death.

    Anywho, your questions on performance are paramount to a successful choice program. That is why it is important that performance results must be public and easy to compare to public schools. That best part of choice schools is that if failing ones can’t turn around, they can be shut down. Good luck seeing reforms at a failing mps school or shutting a bad one down…

    Side note Greg… the idea they can kick students out without cause and still collect tuition is false. In addition, I said tax payer money spent, not total spent. Who cares how much the total is if it didnt come from you?

  53. Vincent Hanna says:

    You sure are quick to call people names Andy, while also presenting yourself as the tolerant one. People are not bigots for opposing taxpayer funding of religious schools. I know (GASP!) religious people who strongly oppose vouchers. You are extraordinarily self-righteous, and you sure have a seething hatred of MPS. Do you even know any MPS teachers? I can’t imagine you do considering what you spew here.

  54. Andy says:

    Sure, chastise me for name calling and then do it yourself… nice.

    Bigotry is not name calling. When you oppose someone simply because of their beliefs being different than yours, that is the definition of bigotry. If you question how successful choice schools are, that is a legitimate discussion. If you oppose a school simply because it has a religious affiliation and for no other real reason, that is bigotry. This is what happened here. The proof is in words like zealot and indoctrination.

    I do have a deep dislike for MPS. They continually put politics, fiefdoms, money, and unions before students and their education. This doesn’t mean I dislike the teachers, in fact I respect MPS teachers more than any others because of what they have to deal with regarding students, teachers, administrators and yes, even those in the community who villainize them. And no, I have plenty of MPS teacher friends and neighbors.

  55. Vincent Hanna says:

    Sorry but it’s true and it’s warranted in this instance.

    I never once said I only oppose a school because of a religious affiliation. Not once. Please don’t put words in my mouth and make things up.

    What makes you an expert on the inner workings of MPS? Who is they? The people in the central office? Principals? The way you phrase it “they” is some faceless boogeyman made up by talk radio. As a former MPS teacher, I find your comments about it here deeply offensive. You overgeneralize. I bet you’d defend MPD if someone bashed cops, but you don’t hesitate to bash MPS. What if someone said MPD put power, unions, and protecting bad cops above public safety? Would you agree? I bet not.

  56. gregory johnson says:

    Andy–State law has what is known as the 3rd Friday rule. Any kid in a school effective that day is counted by that school. Some schools actually promote that day with things like pizza day. The schools can and do find reasons to rid themselves of disruptive kids, kids whose parent (s) don’t adhere to family rules such as buying or selling church raffle tickets, don’t participate in the PTO, and those that don’t partake in the educational experience, determined by the school administration. Guess where these rejected kids get sent? With no money. So don’t say something you apparently don’t know much about. Look up voucher schools which closed abruptly. Hundreds of children sent back to MPS without the money.

  57. gregory johnson says:

    Andy– And while comparing costs one should take the total spent from all sources and compare that with public education. Donations from The Devos, The Walton Foundation, The Bradley Foundation, et al, donate hundreds of millions of dollars to these schools. And I suppose you wouldn’t believe they have an agenda.and are doing this out of the goodness of their hearts?

  58. AG says:

    Vincent, you are offended that someone dislikes the MPS board and some administrators because of the political decisions they make but you don’t find it offensive that Jack and Greg straight out admitted that religion was the reason they oppose choice schools? I don’t believe you… you’re more rational than that… and your MPD comparison is not a good one since I call out Flynn and other leaders when I disagree with them too. My cop friends don’t get offended at that, just as my teacher friends don’t get offended when I express my displeasure with MPS leadership.

    Greg, that’s not how the payment works, only partial payments are made based on the “3rd Friday rule.” The student also must be present in January and there are rules against who/how/why a student can be kicked out. However, more telling (once again) is your view that donations from foundations, individuals in parishes, or wealthy people in Waukesha who want to open a school on the south side, can’t be done because there is a real desire to improve the city. You live in a jaded world, Greg…

  59. Vincent Hanna says:

    Oh so now it is the board and some administrators. You are moving the goalposts. Previously it was just MPS. You have modified your meaning. Your problem is the school board and some administrators. That’s different from your previous comments. I don’t recall you calling out MPD. Maybe Flynn, but not MPD. I must have missed those posts. Still, my question wasn’t about Flynn, it was about MPD and how you’d respond to a statement that they care more about unions and protecting bad cops than public safety.

  60. Andy says:

    I never moved any goalposts… in fact, I even tried in post #54 to clear up your mis-perception.

    I might be a little extra heated lately because of recent maneuvers like ending the highly successful STOP program due to political reasons, the threats they made (not publically, I got the info from someone who works at a failing H.S.) to remove all property not nailed down at any school that the county tried to reform (actually some things that were nailed/bolted down too) even though Abele and Means support MPS and wanted to keep all teachers, unions, and personnel part of MPS, and a few other decisions I’ve mentioned in recent stories here on UM. How many more superintendents do they need to chase away by not working with them? This probably isn’t the place to get into all that… it’s rather tangential at this point.

  61. Andy says:

    Vincent… you just commented on another article that you agreed MPS needs reform. If you agree with me, why are you offended by my comments?

  62. Vincent Hanna says:

    My opposition to the takeover plan should not be taken as a blanket defense of MPS. I could be wrong, and I have posted comments here and at JSOnline trying to get more information without any luck, but it seems to me that the takeover plan was rushed and ill-conceived. The takeover failure in Newark proves that time and effort is needed to make sure it is done right. I don’t think legislators gave Abele (and by extension Means) enough time to secure the community buy-in and support that is absolutely essential for the takeover to work. I wish Abele and Means had told legislators that they needed more time. To my knowledge they didn’t. A takeover should not be supported without question or concern just because MPS needs improvement. If it isn’t done right it will only make things work. You should read The Prize.

  63. Vincent Hanna says:

    “I do have a deep dislike for MPS. They continually put politics, fiefdoms, money, and unions before students and their education.”

    That is what I find offensive. It’s a blanket condemnation and overly broad. You just blast MPS, with no nuance or mention of the board or administrators.

  64. gregory johnson says:

    There are no failing schools. There are people who are failing to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the taxpayer. Every real MPS teacher has already demonstrated their proficiency by graduating college, securing a license or licenses, and getting hired. How could they be failing? As the person attending school, they are in school 1/8 of a year, 7/8 somewhere else. That just may be where the failing is.
    And I’ll bet you draw the line at SOME religious organizations. WICCA, Islam, any others? Probably a whole slew of them.
    And if Ramirez wants to pay for his religious agenda, he’ll recoup his expenses from vouchers. As a fallen away Catholic, I’m appalled with all the tax breaks afforded to religious groups. They use the services and pay nothing.
    Still waiting to hear anyone come up with a valid reason to pay for a religious agenda with my tax money. I’m 69 and never heard one yet.

  65. Andy says:

    Hence why I made the clarification.

    I just read a review of the book here: and have to admit it sounds both interesting and depressing. It looks worth the read.

  66. Vincent Hanna says:

    OK fair enough. It was needed. It’s a great, insightful, enlightening book, and it doesn’t really take sides. It has plenty of criticism for unions and Newark’s public school system. There are many valuable lessons that Milwaukee could learn from, the biggest being if you rush a takeover and make no attempt whatsoever to earn the trust of the community, it will never work. To me the takeover seemed rush by legislators.

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