Tuesday, October 18, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: Wisconsin Senate Blocks Further School Choice Expansion

Earlier this month initial steps were taken to try to prevent the further expansion of school choice in Wisconsin, despite the fact that public schools were already improving as a result of expansions earlier this year and the enrollment cap has been reached in the first year of the new program in Racine.

Now, the State Senate has passed legislation making it impossible for future expansion of vouchers in the state.

We're highly disappointed in this news for a few reasons; first, it flies in the face of polling data that shows strong support for school choice expansion into Green Bay. Second, it fails to see that the demand for school choice is there.

But third, and perhaps most important, is that we're seeing a reversal of the very political will that was so necessary to help expand school choice in Wisconsin in the first place. What's troubling is that many of the very legislators who championed budget provisions creating the Racine program also, sadly, favored this arbitrary measure that shuts out thousands of families from having access to the educational opportunities they deserve.

Today's measure even passed via a voice vote, meaning that there was a large bloc of support for it.

This sets a dangerous precedent in a state where political turmoil has been the norm for most of the entire year. On the heels of news that special interests plan to lead the charge to recall Gov. Scott Walker, we hope today's bill passage isn't a reactionary measure to the threat of a new recall. Because, after all, what's the point of holding office and making change if you're willing to give up the gains you've made because of political pressure?

The bill now heads to the State Assembly, where we hope legislators will take a more principled stance. We'll of course keep you updated on developments in Wisconsin's other chamber, as well as what happens if the plan ultimately passes both Houses. We can't imagine Gov. Walker favors such a measure, so it will be interesting to see what happens.

Stay posted to School Choice Now! for all the updates in the coming days and weeks, and be sure to follow us on Twitter (www.twitter.com/schoolchoicenow) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/schoolchoicenow) for b-the-minute updates.

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MAG

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