New numbers from the Department of Public Instruction show many students receiving taxpayer-funded vouchers were already enrolled in private schools.
Supporters of a statewide expansion of the private school voucher program have argued it will allow more children to escape troubled public schools. However, DPI figures show only about 19 percent of the 538 students receiving vouchers for the first time this fall attended a public school last year. The rest were already going to a private school.
School Choice Wisconsin, a supporter of the voucher program, accused the DPI of only telling part of the story to make the voucher program look bad. The group says the state’s data does not reflect that fact that many of the students receiving a voucher who attended a private school last year were there because of scholarships. They contend the voucher program is now allowing new students to take those scholarships and attend a school of their choice.
The tax-funded voucher program has been in place in Milwaukee for years, and was only recently expanded to Racine and then statewide on a limited basis. Opponents contend it takes state aid away from already underfunded public schools. Republicans have indicated further statewide expansion is one of their goals during the next Legislative session.