Special needs voucher program costs taxpayers $5.6 million, reduces aid to public schools, report says

The Wisconsin program that allows children with special needs to attend private schools at taxpayer expense cost the state $5.6 million in “scholarships” in its first two years, and diverted $4.1 million in needed state aid away from 25 local public school districts, according to a new audit from the Legislative Audit Bureau. Milwaukee Public Schools alone lost more than $2.6 million in state aid because of the program. In addition, an analysis of the report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the report “confirmed what many critics had feared: that it would serve primarily children already in private schools and leave children with the greatest needs to the public schools.”

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Rep. Pocan calls private school voucher system a ‘wasteful, failing experiment’

“It is unconscionable for taxpayers to continue funding two duplicative education systems, particularly when the one can cherry-pick students and ignore educational standards and dodge showing proof they are working,” Pocan writes in the Progressive Magazine. “We need to have the federal Department of Education clarify the necessary steps to ensure proper oversight of this program, which appears to be a wasteful, failing experiment. After all, this should be about quality education for our kids.”

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Teachers will remain vigilant to expose vouchers that fail special needs children

The door is open for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate future claims that private voucher schools discriminate against students with disabilities, after the department closed a four-year investigation into claims of voucher wrongdoings. Parents, educators and disability rights groups will remain vigilant in reporting situations in which voucher schools are not adequately serving special needs children, and aggrieved families can pursue individual action.

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Families promise to keep speaking out against special needs vouchers

In the wake of recent headlines that promise the return of efforts to pass special needs vouchers in Wisconsin, families of students with special needs said they will continue to fight against them. “The families of Stop Special Needs Vouchers are determined to continue to let our legislators and our communities know: special needs vouchers would be a dangerous experiment with our most vulnerable students,” said the organization Stop Special Needs Vouchers.

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