Governor Scott Walker's plan to expand private voucher schools to nine new communities and increase their funding received a lot of push back yesterday. Some of it came from members of his own party.
Walker's budget would increase funding for voucher schools proportionally more than it would for public schools. Walker said that's because existing voucher schools currently get less than public schools and new voucher high schools would be expensive to run. "And so we tried to get a little more parity there as well. But in both cases they're still less than what the public schools in those communities get."
But Ripon Republican Senator Luther Olsen, who chairs the Senate's Education Committee, says that ignores the fact that nobody has to go to a voucher school, and that voucher schools don't have to take the most challenging kids. Public schools do. Olsen: "To say that we need parity to me is really not basically understanding what public schools do at all."
Olsen says it looks like the governor's budget spends almost no new money on public schools and froze their revenue caps. Olsen says that needs changing.
"I have got to believe that folks in this state, rather than getting a two-dollar a week tax cut, would rather see their schools get something rather than no increase per student whatsoever. It's all priorities."
The Governor delivers his full budget tomorrow.