NEWS: Racine School Choice Info Meeting Draws Large Crowd

From The Journal Times:

RACINE — Like many other parts of the recently passed state budget, expansion of Wisconsin’s school voucher program in the Racine area drew its share of heat while the budget bill was under debate. But on Sunday, with the debate over, a number of people were interested in the reality of what the program will mean for them and their children.

Niccole Granger, 27, of Racine, came to a school choice informational meeting at Kurt Sports Complex, 720 College Ave., to investigate options for her son, Landon, and learn how the voucher program works. He will enter kindergarten in a little more than a month, and he is in the attendance district for Knapp Elementary School.

“That is a school I will not send him to,” Granger said. The school’s test scores are poor, and it does not have a good reputation among the people she’s talked to, she said.

“I was to the point where I was going to lie about where I lived to get him in a different district,” she said.

As a divorced mother of two, paying the full cost of a private school is beyond her ability, she said.

DeAnna Fields, 35, of Racine, came primarily to look at options for her daughter, who is scheduled to enter Park High School this fall.

“She’s already an advanced child, but to have her courses geared toward college, and just that individualized attention she’ll receive, I know she’ll do better there at a private school than at a public,” Fields said.

From private schools, Fields is seeking smaller classes and more resources for students. Private schools are stereotypically short on cash, but Fields said the Racine Unified School District has cut a number of instructional programs during the past few years.

About 100 families stopped in during the first couple of hours; some were waiting when the doors opened, and more than half already knew which schools they will apply to, organizers said.

“There are some parents who came with their applications filled out,” said Scott Jensen. He is senior adviser to the American Federation for Children and a former speaker of the state Assembly. The federation helped organize Sunday’s event and helped put together a similar application and information session for tonight.

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