Monday, February 18, 2013

Say "Ah" Wisconsin, Here Come The Vouchers

This fall, the enrollment limit for vouchers in Racine will be lifted, meaning that anyone who qualifies under the income requirements can apply to send little Johnny to any private school who accept vouchers - cheerfully paid for with public dollars.

In a town who rates number one in unemployment - that's a lot of people who's income is 300% below the poverty level. What most people forget is that 300% is fairly generous - just about $70,000 per year for a family of four are considered too poor to afford to send their kids to the church school of their choice.

Of course that church school doesn't have to meet the same educational guidelines and public schools and if little Johnny proves to be a handful, flunks out or just hates his new school - his old public school is required to take him back - but the church school still pockets the money.

That's a pretty strong incentive for any private school to apply to be on the list to take those no-strings attached vouchers.

A whole bunch of school districts watched this brilliant plan get shoved down the throat of the Racine school district with no hearings or offer of a referendum vote just two years ago. They breathed a sigh of relief that towns like Green Bay and Madison who would have qualified for a voucher system got spared.

It was only temporary - cause the vouchers are back and it's time to take your medicine Wisconsin.

Our college drop-out Governor has now released his school voucher plan that could spread to nine additional communities. While not all Republican state senators are fans of vouchers - especially if they land in their districts - Walker has a bigger majority in the Senate then he did two years ago and the most active lobbyists promoting the expansion are two former Republican Assembly speakers. One is Jeff Fitzgerald who guided the Racine debacle through the Assembly in the last session.

This voucher program is actually less scary than Walker's special needs vouchers "scholarships" which would give any kid in the state with an IEP up to $13,500 to go to a school of their choice that isn't even required to offer any special needs programming or staff. Guess what happens when little Johnny's ADHD gets too stressful for his private school - yep, out he goes, school keeps the money. The special little fuck-you built into last year's version was the $13,500 doesn't come out of general school funding - but directly from Johnny's local school he used to attend. Nice.

It's going to be a wild week digesting Walker's budget scheduled to debut in full on Wednesday - better take your Alka Seltzer now.