Wisconsin State Assembly Passes Bipartisan School Choice Expansion
Legislation would expand successful Milwaukee Parental Choice Program
Washington, D.C. (May 12, 2011) – In a victory for families in Milwaukee, the Wisconsin State Assembly Tuesday passed two pieces of legislation that will expand educational opportunities for children from low-income families.
The American Federation for Children, a leading national advocacy organization promoting school choice, praised the Wisconsin State Assembly for its bipartisan work to expand the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program and provide more educational opportunities to thousands of low-income families.
The Assembly passed Assembly Bill 92, which would remove the program’s arbitrary student enrollment cap and allow students in Milwaukee to attend private schools in Milwaukee County. Currently, the program limits participation at 22,500 students and only allows Milwaukee students to enroll in private schools within the City of Milwaukee.
The State Assembly also passed Assembly Bill 94, which would create uniform accounting standards, streamline the application process, and simplify payment procedures. The Assembly adopted an important amendment offered by Representative Jason Fields (D-Milwaukee) that will ensure that families currently participating in the choice program will not lose eligibility—and see their education severely interrupted—if their income rises above the program’s current income eligibility requirements. The amendment passed 81-12.
“The Wisconsin State Assembly has taken steps toward providing educational options to thousands more children from low-income families in Milwaukee,” said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children. “Eliminating enrollment caps and expanding the program to Milwaukee County gives more families hope for a brighter future.”
In hailing the passage of the two bills, the American Federation for Children also praised Representatives Mark Honadel (R), Chris Kapenga (R), Steve Kestell (R), Dale Kooyenga (R), Pat Strachota (R), and Jason Fields (D) for their work in championing improvements to the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.
Both measures now head to the Wisconsin State Senate for consideration.