Wisconsin slated to improve voucher funding but provide little expansion to school choice program

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 5, 2013) – The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, today applauded new legislation to improve funding for the state’s choice and charter schools while expressing disappointment that efforts to expand parental choice to more families were not enacted into law.

“We are pleased that the Wisconsin legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee made progress towards fairer funding of choice and charter students and that they provided help to families struggling to pay private school tuition,” said Betsy DeVos, chairman for the American Federation for Children. “However, it is disappointing that more children will not be able to attend the school of their parents’ choice in the new statewide program. Wisconsin families and children deserve quality educational options, especially those families with special needs children who saw their opportunities vanish when the committee voted to eliminate Governor Walker’s proposed special needs scholarship program.”

The motion passed by the Joint Committee on Finance made several changes, including: Increasing per pupil voucher funding, capping the number of students who participate in the statewide school choice program to 500 students in the 2013-14 school year, while increasing the enrollment cap to a 1,000 students, thereafter; and, removing the Special Needs Scholarship from the budget. Finally, the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee will now be able to authorize independent charters in five counties rather than just the city of Milwaukee.

Next, the budget bill will need to be passed by a majority in the Assembly and the Senate and signed by the Governor to become law.

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.