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FDL School Board Opposes Expansion Of School Choice Voucher Program

29-May-2013

The Fond du Lac School Board unanimously approved a resolution last night opposing the expansion of the school choice voucher program. District Superintendent Jim Sebert says the board felt the district needed to express its stance because both State Senator Rick Gudex and State Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt have been so open about their support for the Governor’s proposal. He says the district did give Thiesfeldt access to their records after an open records request, but the board did agree to place an ad in the Action Advertiser three weeks ago. He says while the voucher proposal would expand funding for private schools, there’s been no proposal to expand funding for public schools. The state legislature’s Joint Finance Committee is supposed to take up educational issues in the state budget today including the school choice voucher program. No compromise has been reached by legislators on that proposal yet.

Comments 9
Anonymous commented on 29-May-2013 09:30 AM3 out of 5 stars
Voucher expansion shouldn't be in the budget.
Anonymous commented on 29-May-2013 10:48 AM3 out of 5 stars
The so-called "school-choice" is a no choice for senior citizens of Fond du Lac who will have to pay for it. Consider this: a family of four with an income of $70,000 could apply for the voucher in our town where the median family income is $35,000. And, under the governor's proposal, the voucher schools can give preference to families that already have children in the system. THIS IS NOT A PROGRAM TO PROVIDE FINANCIAL RELIEF TO POOR FAMILIES. It is clearly aimed at providing relief to well-to-do parents who would normally be sending their kids to parochial schools in Fond du Lac. I could see a day when tax payers will be paying for two systems. I wonder how our representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt and senator Rick Gudex, supposedly anti-big government and fiscally conservative Republicans, can justify shifting this Madison-imposed tax burden onto local taxpayers?

Finally, where is the "reform" in this school reform? Are the parochial schools in Fond du Lac or any of the other cities targeted coming up with any new ideas on teaching and improving student learning? The answer is obviously "No." I can agree that public schools are not for every child but those who want to send their child to a parochial school for religious reasons have that option now. Forty-three percent of students who attend St. Mary's Springs Academy get financial aid, some up to 70% of the tuition cost. At Winnebago Lutheran Academy's website they boast: “Money does not prevent a student from attending WLA.” They also provide financial aid to families on a sliding scale based on family income.

While it is a burden for parents who want their children to get a religious education, this is a burden that they choose. And exercising that option they should pay for it. Their school choice should not be my choice.
Anonymous commented on 29-May-2013 10:53 AM3 out of 5 stars
Every child has a right to a good education no matter what school it is. Voucher or no voucher.
Anonymous commented on 29-May-2013 01:01 PM3 out of 5 stars
I agree with every child has a right to a good education but unfortunately, the FDL school system is not doing that. I think some competition will be good for all kids! And, if you notice it is the lower income schools that failed.
Anonymous commented on 29-May-2013 01:56 PM3 out of 5 stars
Private or public schools will not help the lower income failing schools. The parents of some of these kids treat school like a babysitting service and don't continue the education at home. The make their children the "taxpayers" problems
Anonymous commented on 29-May-2013 02:46 PM3 out of 5 stars
I completely disagree with the previous writer that the Fond du Lac school system is not providing a good education for our children. That said, it is not always possible for each child to take advantage of that education if he has "limited English proficiency" like 22% of the students at Riverside Elementary or 14.9% of the students at Parkside Elementary -- two of the schools that were defined as "Meeting Few Expectation." When you are a child and think in one language at home and then have to take a standardized test that is given state-wide in ENGLISH, what result would you expect? Turn this around, how well would your child do if the tests were given in Spanish?
Also, these schools are not "lower income schools" -- they get the same resources and quality teachers as the other public schools in Fond du Lac -- but it is true that many of the students who attend them come from "economically disadvantaged" families. And, they have a marginally higher proportion of "students with disabilities."
As to the previous writer’s belief in the value of "competition,” who is competing and what are the rules for this competition? When you look at the most recent data from the state-wide DPI testing you will find that Milwaukee Public schools out-performed the Milwaukee Private Schools in math and reading. BUT, the differences were not that significantly different. The point is: after 22 years of voucher school choice in Milwaukee shouldn't this "voucher reform" show better results than this?
I also disagree that competition is NOT "good for all kids." Webster's Dictionary defines this word: "contest for the same object, rivalry." Competition for marginal differences between schools in a high-stake race for precious state revenue can lead to teachers teaching to the tests in a way that is unhealthy for children. Kids hopefully learn more in school than just to take tests and compete. They learn to cooperate. They learn respect for other kids regardless of their differences. They learn from adult role models how to face problems and resolve conflict. Schools are not just factories where kids compete on multiple choice tests because that's how the schools get funded.
At worst this mania for test results can lead to school principals instructing teachers to erase the wrong answers on their school's standardized tests and putting in correct answers so that their school will get more funding. This happened last year in Milwaukee with some schools that received taxpayer funds.
Finally, if we were being honest about providing every child with a good education we would not be raising the eligibility for the voucher to go to families that make up to $70,000 per year. If this was a program to help the students from disadvantaged families the level would either be at the poverty level of slightly better. This is not a reform plan: it is the first of many steps to take funding from public schools and to encourage for-profit digital schools that will hurt public and parochial schools and eliminate local control by school boards and local taxpayers.
Anonymous commented on 29-May-2013 03:20 PM3 out of 5 stars
WOW!!! You made a great statement with lots of facts!! I loved it! I guess I did not do enough research on my part. I was misinformed. Thank you for the wonderful perspective!!
Anonymous commented on 30-May-2013 09:23 AM3 out of 5 stars
Just keep voting republican and you will keep getting more of this crap!!!
David J Dorn commented on 31-May-2013 03:28 PM3 out of 5 stars
Simply put, private schools are ill equipped to take on what the public schools do. More money for the private schools would not change it, In all honesty, all the schools would end up being short changed. Public schools already provide the services to private schools, at no cost, that the private schools cannot afford. Take that away and all schools suffer and become diminished.

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