New Statewide Voucher Program Attracts Huge Demand

Nearly five times more applicants than available vouchers

Madison, Wis. (Aug. 15, 2013) – The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, today urged the Governor and legislature to recognize the overwhelming demand for educational choice in Wisconsin and consider lifting enrollment caps on the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP). More than 2,400 Wisconsin families applied to participate in Wisconsin’s new statewide voucher program during the 2013-14 school year, nearly five times more than the 500 seats allowed, according to numbers released today by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

“Demand for educational choice in Wisconsin is overwhelming—parents recognize they deserve the opportunity to send their children to the schools that best fit their needs,” said Kevin P. Chavous, executive counsel to the American Federation for Children. “We urge Governor Scott Walker and the legislature to recognize the demand and work to lift the caps on Wisconsin’s educational choice programs.”

Created in an amended version of Gov. Walker’s budget, the statewide parental choice program will provide 500 students access to the participating private school of their parents’ choice in the 2013-14 school year, and 1,000 students in years thereafter. Previously in Wisconsin, only eligible families in Milwaukee and Racine were able to participate in a private educational choice program.

To qualify for a voucher worth up to $6,442, families must have a household income not exceeding 185 percent of the federal poverty level. The scholarship amount is slated to increase to $7,210 for grades K-8 and $7,856 for grades 9-12 in the 2014-15 school year. The number of participating schools was capped at 25, while 48 schools and school systems applied to be considered for approval.

There are 38 publicly funded private school choice programs in 18 states and Washington, D.C.. Last year, nearly 250,000 children participated in publicly funded private school choice programs across the country.

Due to the short enrollment window, the Alliance for School Choice – AFC’s sister organization – assisted in informing parents of the new educational options through a website, postcards and calls.

The American Federation for Children is the nation’s leading school choice advocacy organization and works in states across the country to help secure additional, high-quality educational options for families.