State school superintendent Tony Evers says he’s open to ending the enrollment limits for Wisconsin’s on-line schools and the Milwaukee private school voucher program. Governor-elect Scott Walker and other Republicans support the lifting of both caps. Evers tells the Wisconsin-Eye channel he must accept political realities. He says removing the limits would not fundamentally change the way the voucher and virtual schools operate and it won’t dramatically increase the enrollments, either.
Republicans say the tax-funded private school voucher program helps low-income kids get a good education with a better chance to escape poverty. The Milwaukee district and teacher unions say it drains money from their programs.
Milwaukee Superintendent Greg Thornton says lawmakers should consider a change in the funding formula, so city taxpayers don’t have to shell out $52 million for the vouchers. The enrollment limit is 22,500 and the program has never reached its quota.
Meanwhile, parents of virtual school students have been pushing to end their enrollment cap almost as long as it’s been in place. Teacher unions saw those schools as a threat to brick-and-mortar schools and they won a court battle to end state aid for the on-line classes.
But virtual school parents later convinced lawmakers to continue the program, and a limit of 5,250 students was set as a compromise. Julie Thompson of the Coalition of Virtual School families says the cap serves no purpose.