POLITIFACT: Debunking False School Choice Claims in Wisconsin

From Politifact Wisconsin:

Although notable for cutting billions of dollars in spending and deficits, the new Wisconsin state budget also expands the nation’s largest and longest-running school choice program, which uses tax money to send nearly 21,000 lower-income Milwaukee children to private schools.

Read the full analysis of the false claims here:http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/jul/13/peter-barca/wisconsin-state-rep-peter-barca-says-assembly-vote/

Barca said that by supporting the 2011-2013 state budget, freshmen Republican Assembly members “voted to take funding away from their public schools in their districts to give it to private Milwaukee voucher schools.”

On a broad level, that is not true: the budget appropriates money separately for choice. To cover part of the cost, it reduces state aid to Milwaukee Public Schools, but not to other school districts.

It is possible that if large numbers of the new choice students come from private schools rather than Milwaukee Public Schools, there could be a net loss to taxpayers outside of MPS. But research indicates that if past experience holds and 60 percent of the new choice students come from private schools, property taxpayers outside of MPS would still save money.

To be sure, the full effect of the school choice expansion won’t be known for some time. But Barca didn’t state that depending on how the expansion plays out, it might cost other school districts — he claimed that the expansion actually takes away money from those districts. There is no evidence of that.

We rate Barca’s claim False.