Get the Facts

On Unlimited Voucher Expansion

The proposed 2015-2017 state budget expands the taxpayer-paid private voucher program by eliminating the 1,000 student cap on voucher enrollment for the program outside of Milwaukee and Racine. This means tens of thousands of students could enroll in private voucher schools, draining millions of taxpayer money away from public schools. The effects of the proposal include:

Unlimited Statewide Voucher School Expansion Takes Needed Funding Away From Public Schools While They Are Still Suffering From Historic Cuts. The funding for the new voucher slots will come directly from local public school districts’ budgets. While increasing the funding for voucher schools, the proposed state budget basically freezes spending for public schools even though they have recently suffered from the largest budget cuts in the nation.

More Taxpayer Money for Voucher Schools With Lower Teacher Standards and Less Accountability. The budget significantly expands the private voucher program, meaning even more tax dollars will be going to schools that are less accountable and have lower teacher standards than public schools. Despite receiving over $200 million of taxpayer money, voucher schools do not have to comply with the state’s open meetings and open records law, are not required to hire licensed teachers, and do not need to abide by the state’s instructional or graduation requirements.

Taxpayer Money for Vouchers Goes to Students Already in Private Schools. 73% of the students who enrolled in the statewide voucher program this year were already going to private schools. That means taxpayers are just ending up paying the private school tuition bills instead of parents, taking away even more money from our public schools.

Unlimited Statewide Voucher Expansion is Opposed by School Boards and Superintendents Across Wisconsin. The unlimited statewide voucher expansion is opposed by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, local elected school boards and by professional school leadership. This is a plan developed by politicians and high-paid lobbyists in Madison and is contrary to the Wisconsin tradition of local control of public schools.

Walker and the Pro-Voucher Supporters Have Received Over $10 million in Campaign Support from National Pro-voucher Supporters. Unlimited voucher expansion is more about helping Walker’s presidential campaign than doing what’s best for Wisconsin school children.

Voucher Schools Have Lower Test Scores than Public Schools. A recent report shows that students in private voucher schools scored lower in math and English proficiency tests than public school students. Despite repeated promises of new accountability standards for voucher schools, the legislature has refused to act, meaning that taxpayers are footing the bill for vouchers any without meaningful accountability.

Millions in Taxpayer Money to Troubled Voucher Schools. Over the past ten years, 50 private voucher schools have been terminated from the program because of compliance issues ranging from health and safety violations to financial irregularities. Before they were forced from the program, Wisconsin taxpayers had given more than $139 million to these schools.

Voucher Expansion Could Raise Property Taxes. The expansion of vouchers could raise local property taxes because under the state equalization aid formula districts that lose students to private voucher schools will appear wealthier and receive less state aid, forcing them to raise property taxes to make up for the funding shortfall.