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Democrats Try To Block Education Funding Bill In Congress

Pocan Says Bill Would Drain Funding From Poorer School Districts

Wispolitics (CC-BY-NC-SA)

Democrats in Congress are trying to block Republican-backed changes in federal education funding for public schools.

A K-12 education bill moving through committees in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate includes provisions that change the long-standing policy of providing more funds to poorer school districts. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, said the bill creates a $1,300-per-student voucher program allowing money to follow low-income students who transfer to a richer school district from a poorer one.

“Essentially those districts would see less money, and more affluent districts with only a few kids in poverty would actually get more money. So it’s a shift that would take money away from schools that need it the most,” said Pocan.

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Backers of the bill say it will empower parents by giving them more school choice options and provide support to charter and magnet schools.

Pocan said Republicans introduced and then withdrew an amendment that would allow federal money to be used pay private school tuition in the same way state dollars can be used now in Wisconsin’s school choice program. Pocan sees the current plan as a step towards making the Wisconsin school voucher program a model for the nation.

He said he and other Democrats will try again to amend the bill when it reaches the House floor.