I’ve been asked what my position is on the expansion of taxpayer-funded private school vouchers, and whether or not I would be supportive of the program’s expansion.
The short answer is “NO.”
● I am strongly against the expansion of taxpayer-funded private school vouchers.
● I strongly believe that the public should be investing their public dollars to make public schools better and meet the needs of all public school kids, versus placing public dollars in private schools.
Further, I think that most people in Wisconsin have no idea how much voucher expansion has cost them as taxpayers, and how much of the funding for vouchers has come from the aid that is general school aid that used to go to public schools. I have nothing against private schools, and they serve a purpose, of course, in the general fabric of what makes Wisconsin schooling great, but I do not believe that private schools that take funds from public schools should be funded with tax dollars.
As state superintendent, I would implement the law as it is written; however, I advocate that public money go to improve public schools and their programs that improve equity and student achievement instead of expanding private school vouchers.
I think that private schools that accept public dollars should be in the same accountability system as public schools. Their teachers and administrators should have the same licensing requirements, and they should have the same accountability report cards as public schools and districts required for all of their students. I would take it a step further: those private schools that accept federal dollars like Title I and Title II should also be a part of the federal accountability program and identification process. In addition, I would like to see an item on our tax bills that shows the amount that is provided for the local public school tax levy, and then the amount that is removed from the levy that goes to both voucher schools and independent charter schools.
Taxpayers deserve transparency in where their money goes, particularly when they are approving referendums for their public schools, while private vouchers and 2R charters never have to go to referendum and take their funding off the top of the equalized aid distribution.