School vouchers, do they help or hurt?

By: Amelia Cerling Email
By: Amelia Cerling Email

ELEVA, Wisc. (WEAU) --Small school districts in the Chippewa Valley say new legislation allowing more school vouchers could have big implications for the future of public schools.

On Thursday, Governor Walker signed a new bill expanding the school voucher program to Milwaukee County and Racine.

The voucher program essentially takes public taxpayer funds and funnels that to private schools, giving children of lesser means access to a different type of education.

Superintendent of Eleva-Strum schools Craig Semingson says he's not sure why there's been a nationwide shift towards voucher programs, but he does know how it would affect students in his district.

“The voucher program I believe would hurt smaller public schools. Our budgets are tight anyways and if we lose even one student it would have a fairly large impact on our budget,” Semingson explains.

He says he is philosophically opposed to the nature of voucher programs, and adds research doesn't back up supporting the program on academic grounds.

“I believe it's a political agenda, because I don't know of any research out there that shows that the public school/private school voucher program increases student achievement,”

Semingson says according to a Department of Public Instruction report, students in the voucher program did worse or at best the very same as their counterparts across the state.

“Which makes me question what the motive is for continuing the voucher program or even wanting to expand the voucher program,” Semingson says.

Meanwhile, Governor Walker's press office released this statement saying,

"Governor Walker supports empowering parents by providing them with additional options to choose from when looking at education for their children. This will ultimately improve education for all children by encouraging competition. Under the Governor’s budget proposal if parents feel that their children will get a better education at a public school than at a choice school, they have the freedom to enroll their children in the public school system.”

School vouchers aren't just a contentious topic in Wisconsin lawmakers recently passed legislation creating or expanding programs in Virginia, Florida and Louisiana.

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  • by Susan Location: Eau Claire on Apr 10, 2012 at 02:42 PM
    My son is a special needs student and was not being helped in the public school system. I moved him and he is now doing well, but I am paying for my selection.
  • by Darin on Apr 10, 2012 at 02:12 PM
    “I believe it's a political agenda, because I don't know of any research out there that shows that the public school/private school voucher program increases student achievement,” Well Mr. Seminson you are obviously not looking very hard or are just intentionally lying. It took me all of 2 mins. on Google to find positive research on the school voucher program. With that being said I could not find very credible research on either side of the argument. The anti-voucher studies I found were all done by Unions or left leaning organizations and the pro-voucher studies were all right leaning organizations or clearly stated they were pro-voucher. To me it seems like common sense that if a child wants to attend a different school and it costs the state half as much to do that, as long as the education is the same or better, I'm all for it.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 10, 2012 at 01:25 PM
    Yet it is ok for MY tax dollars to go to Public Schools when I chose not to use them? This option gives others the same choice - since you hate catholic schools you don't have to use them, but I am sure there are some families who would love to send their child to a private school and this may give them the opportunity. If you are going to start ear-marking your tax dollars be careful. Hundreds of thousands of tax dollars that go to public schools come from families with private school students. Are you suggesting we get to select where our school taxes go? That would be a disaster for public schools.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 10, 2012 at 05:13 AM
    Worry about the competition much there buddy?
    • reply
      by Gary on Apr 10, 2012 at 05:51 PM in reply to
      no kidding !!
  • by Anonymous on Apr 10, 2012 at 04:21 AM
    Do private schools have to accept the vouchers? Or can they still be selective in their enrollment acceptances? That would be my major question. If you have a child with a special need, most private schools are not equipped or staffed correctly to meet legal needs. If I take my child with a special need to a private schools because of a voucher they are going to have to hire and modify their educational environment to meet IDEA and the special education laws. This would cost the private school a great deal of money. Would private schools have to honor the vouchers or could they be selective???? I have not heard an answer to that question throughout this process. What happens is you take your student to a school and you / they do not like it and you want to change? Are you able to freely change like right now or are you there for good? What if the the school you choose is not in the district you live? Would the district you live in have to take you back? I would like to know if these questions have been thought about and how you are going to implement this.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 10, 2012 at 04:09 AM
    No should I have to have my tax money go to religious schools for brain washing. Seems funny I'll bet you went to public school system
  • by Peter Location: Eau Claire on Apr 9, 2012 at 10:36 PM
    Schooling should be up to parents to decide what is best for their children. Public education is should be an option that an independent or conservative family may not choose because of the overall attitude of the union based teachers and school boards. Embrace diversity of thoughts and methods. Unions want to make the same 1940s Soviet tractors essentially foreverrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Give poor and middle class families a choice where to spend their education tax dollars. Public schools don't own WI children.
  • by John T. Location: Eau Cliare on Apr 9, 2012 at 09:14 PM
    Vouchers for Eau Claire please.
    • reply
      by J on Apr 10, 2012 at 05:53 PM in reply to John T.
      vouchers would be great, but few options in EC
  • by Tom Location: ec on Apr 9, 2012 at 07:55 PM
    helps the kids, hurts the unions
    • reply
      by Scott on Apr 10, 2012 at 05:23 AM in reply to Tom
      That is just it there is no proof it helps the kids.
      • reply
        by Xteach on Apr 10, 2012 at 05:54 PM in reply to Scott
        helped my kids to not be in a gov't school and i used to teach !
  • by Yellow River Rat Location: Bateman on Apr 9, 2012 at 05:53 PM
    I would like to know why my tax dollars are going to send students to catholic schools.
    • reply
      by Diane on Apr 10, 2012 at 03:51 PM in reply to Yellow River Rat
      To Yellow River Rat, I would like to know why my tax dollars, are going to public schools, who push there agenda on my kids.
      • reply
        by Math is Scary on Apr 11, 2012 at 07:11 AM in reply to Diane
        Reading, writing, and math. Quite a scary agenda. You must be a republican. Prove me wrong.
    • reply
      by Gary on Apr 10, 2012 at 05:55 PM in reply to Yellow River Rat
      yea, that is about the only option in EC, but in many locations there are real options- poor ol EC, stuck in the past
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