Action Alert

Stand up against pro-voucher bill

Act now to protect Wisconsin public education

Please take action against a state bill to roll back accountability measures that apply to private Wisconsin voucher schools receiving taxpayer dollars.

On Friday, June 9, the Wisconsin Senate Committee on Education voted 4-3 to approve Senate Bill 293. The bill would remove requirements that apply to the state’s voucher schools, more than 90 percent of which are religious. Introduced only last week, the bill is zipping through the state Legislature and must be halted. A full vote is expected in the Wisconsin Senate this week.

Religious schools cannot have state money without complying with accountability standards. Tell your state senator that where public money goes, transparency and public accountability must be certain!

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(Keep reading for more information about this bill.)

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Senate Bill 293 would remove safeguards for the state's four voucher programs: a statewide program, a special needs scholarship program, and programs specific to Racine and Milwaukee.

The bill would weaken the academic standards for private voucher schools, which would no longer have to demonstrate that they are advancing the education of students. Under the current state law, voucher schools have to fulfill one of the following each year: at least 70 percent of students advance one grade level; the school's average attendance is at least 90 percent; at least 80 percent of students demonstrate significant academic progress; or at least 70 percent of the parents meet involvement criteria established by the school. If the bill is passed, voucher schools would be excused from fulfilling any of those requirements measuring the effectiveness of the school.

The bill also reduces financial accountability by only requiring an audit in accordance with general accounting principles if the school receives more than $100,000 in vouchers in a year. Many schools across the state receive less than that amount in vouchers annually, and their audits would not have to meet this minimum accounting standard.

Additionally, the Department of Public Instruction would no longer receive school policies and academic standards each year. Instead, department could request them as needed from individual schools. Because private schools are not subject to public records laws, these policies would no longer be available for the public to review.

The bill does include some measures that allow for the Department of Public Instruction to respond to fraud within the program, which FFRF supports. But this positive component will not make up for the damage SB 293 will cause Wisconsin’s secular public education system. That’s why we are asking you to stand up against this bill by contacting your state senator.

Read more

Changes to voucher program on fast track for Senate vote

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