Is Voucher Expansion Good for Green Bay?

The discussion of bringing vouchers into Green Bay and other cities in Wisconsin has turned into a hot topic on both sides of the issue. Regardless of your individual position on vouchers, please consider the following points shared at Monday’s press conference featuring Superintendent Greg Maass and State Superintendent Tony Evers at Preble High School.

  • Vouchers Don’t Raise Student Achievement: It has been proven in Milwaukee that voucher schools do not out perform public schools.
  • Raises Taxes: All district residents will be paying more in property taxes to fund the voucher program. If 500 students use the voucher program, taxpayers will pay an additional $2.7 million in property taxes. Taxpayers will be supporting 38.4% of the cost of each voucher allowing students to attend a private school. Milwaukee taxpayers already pay an additional $40 million in property taxes due to the voucher program. Additional state dollars that could be used to maintain our public schools will be redirected to private schools to fund the remaining 61.6% cost of the program. The district may also be paying for students who are currently in private schools that meet income eligibility requirements; students that are currently not even counted in the district numbers for revenue. As public education is facing unprecedented cuts, this proposal moves taxpayer dollars and spending increases into private education.
  • Pushes the Separation of Church and State: This proposal blurs the line between separation of church and state.
  • Uses Taxpayer Dollars with No Accountability: Taxpayer dollars will go into programming that is not held to the same standards as public schools. Under the current proposal, schools taking vouchers do not have to take all students (high cost students who are low socio-economic status, or have second language or special education needs), as well as do not have to take the same state assessments and be held accountable for the scores.
  • Uses Taxpayer Dollars with No Standards: Currently, private schools receiving public dollars in Milwaukee do not follow the same mandates as public schools, or are required to offer a comprehensive education to all students. Private voucher schools receiving public dollars are also not held accountable to having their assets made taxable.
  • Public Schools Already Subsidize Private Schools: Taxpayer dollars already pay for the transportation needs of private school students to and from school, as well as public schools help some private school students receive special education services, and some federal funding for educating low income students. With the lack of high need students and transportation costs, private schools do not spend as much to educate a student. Public schools are required by law to provide services to all students regardless of special needs and cost of services. Some Green Bay students with severe disabilities cost up to $80,000 a year.
  • Takes Resources Away from a Quality Public Education: Advocates of vouchers are systematically undermining public education as well as communities. As a nation, we educate all children until they are 18-19 years old. It is what separates the United States from the rest of the world. The United States’ global standing is based on the testing of all students, as opposed to only those who are tracked to higher education, as in other countries. This initiative is being pushed through without any plan or public hearings. Our schools in Green Bay are award-winning:
    • District named an AP Achievement District by the College Board.
    • Lombardi Middle School named a Middle School of Excellence.
    • Beaumont Elementary a Blue Ribbon School candidate.
    • Beaumont, Chappell, Kennedy and Lincoln Elementary Schools named Wisconsin Schools of Promise.
    • Our high school students successfully compete in national academic and curricular competitions, including: the East High School Mock Trial team, the Preble Show Choir, Southwest High School INVENTEAM (received a grant from MIT to create a hydro-electric generator), and the West High School DECA chapter (received Gold Medal Recognition for their school store).
    • Wisconsin leads the nation in ACT and SAT scores.
    • Wisconsin leads the nation in graduation rates.
    • The district has implemented many changes to improve student learning at schools with highly disadvantaged socio-economic populations.
  • Choices are Already Available. The Green Bay Area Public School District is offering a grades 8-12 charter school (John Dewey Academy of Learning), a fine arts institute next year at East High School, and is in the process of offering a comprehensive K-12 International Baccalaureate Programme. A public school choice option has also been available for almost a decade, giving families the choice of where to enroll their children.  
    • Jane
    • May 25th, 2011

    If vouchers were an idea pushed by Democrats, the Republican Party would be asking if you want your tax dollars to be paying for Muslim madrassas.

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