Thursday, May 30, 2013

Evers: Voucher Deal as a Trojan Horse

By Lisa Kaiser
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I’m not quite sure what the Republicans (and their former legislative leaders turned lobbyists) will ultimately agree on, but one thing is clear: the state budget will include some sort of voucher expansion.

Democrats and public school advocates are frantic, worried about the damage this will do to the vast majority of state schools that educate the vast majority of students.

But perhaps the voice that we should be listening to is state Superintendent Tony Evers, who, despite being the guy the state constitution has entrusted to public education, has little power in these GOP-on-GOP negotiations.

Evers sent out a press release earlier today, warning that whatever deal ends up in the budget will be a Trojan Horse that will lead to “a voucher in every backpack.” Here’s what struck me: 

“Let’s be clear, no cap on voucher enrollment or income limits has ever stayed in place over the past 20 years. History shows, and I predict, these caps are temporary. And, the result will be more and more funding pulled out of public school classrooms and put into private and religious schools. This is the future being set for a state whose public schools year after year educate students who are among the tops nationally in high school graduation and on the ACT college entrance exam.

“This is not about Milwaukee anymore. It is now about Potosi, Eau Claire, Wausau, River Falls, Ashland, Ashwaubenon, my hometown of Plymouth, and everywhere else in Wisconsin.

 “This is no deal for kids, their families, all taxpayers, and the future of our great state.” 

 

The Republicans negotiating with themselves should heed Evers’ warning. But they won’t.

Even more worrisome is what happens after the JFC signs off on it. Will it survive both houses? Likely. Will Gov. Scott Walker keep it intact, or will he strike enough words to utterly change the meaning of the provision and expand vouchers beyond this limited deal? Time will tell.

 

 

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