Assembly Republicans are considering a program that would allow Wisconsin parents to pay for K-12 school expenses — including private school tuition, textbooks and tutoring — with a taxpayer-funded stream of money known in other states as Education Savings Accounts.
Ron Martin, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, said the programs amount to a “back-door scheme” to take money away from public school funding. “Education savings accounts literally take money out of our neighborhood public schools and hand it over to subsidize private tuition, with zero accountability.”
Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, said a starting point might be to offer the programs to families whose income currently makes them qualify for school vouchers — which is 185 percent of the federal poverty level in the statewide voucher program and 300 percent of the federal poverty level in the Milwaukee and Racine programs.
Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee.
ALEC sets the Pace: Coincidentally, state Republicans are bringing this up now:
The conservative group American Legislative Exchange Council, which helps lawmakers write model legislation, released model policy language on Education Savings Accounts this year.
Wisconsin might find itself with the same problem as Nevada:
Nevada allows any parent — regardless of income or a child’s ability status — to use the accounts. But on Friday, the Nevada Supreme Court struck down the law that provides them, saying the program violated the state’s constitution by sending money reserved for public schools to parents who could use it to pay for private school tuition. Attorney Tamerlin Godley said, “The court said ‘You can’t do it. You have to fund your public schools sufficiently. After you’ve done that, then you can go back and look at competing state money to put some aside for ESAs.”
Republican State Sen. Steve Nass, the enemy of public education, sent staffer Mike Mikalsen to promote the idea on Mitch Hank's radio program. Mikalsen's visceral hatred for public education comes across in the clip below. Check out the nonsensical reasons (highlighted) Mikalsen lists that no parent already involved with their children's education would recognize as real:
Mikalsen: “If your child isn't doing well, you don't care what the schools do, you're worried about your child. This is another way to get individual parents which I know Jeff (caller) doesn't like, because he thinks everybody should be at the control of government…um, and we should be in control of what they think and how they think it and when they think it. But that's passe…we're looking at the next phase of how do you empower parents.”
Yea, screw actual education curriculum and standards. Go Parent Power!!!
Another big problem:
The state’s public school districts cannot charge tuition, raising questions about whether public school districts could be part of the program and receive money from parents using the accounts.
But I don't get the following argument; that it's okay to send taxpayer money to people so they can put it into a savings account.
Grants … shall be set apart as a separate fund to be called “the school fund,” the interest of which and all other revenues derived from the school lands shall be exclusively applied to the following objects, to wit: (1) To the support and maintenance of common schools, in each school district…
; and no sectarian instruction shall be allowed therein;
A former liberal radio talk host who likes to ask the “follow-up question” at Democurmudgeon.blogspot.com