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WISCONSIN: Panelists urge discussion, open minds when it comes to school vouchers

Panelists urge discussion, open minds when it comes to school vouchers

School-VouchersAdvocates for a school voucher system made their case Wednesday night, saying parents need more options in finding the best schools for their children.

At a forum sponsored by Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which favors expansion of voucher programs in Wisconsin, supporters encouraged communities, such as Kenosha, to have the conversation about educational choices.

The forum, held at the Italian American Club, drew about 50 people, including educators, elected officials and community leaders. It is part of a town hall series that stopped in Beloit earlier this week and will be in Green Bay today.

Not a ‘radical idea’

Panelist Casey Given, the foundation’s policy analyst, said school choice isn’t the “radical idea” that some claim.

The state’s program includes charter schools as well as voucher systems in Milwaukee and Racine.

He said the argument that such programs as a charter school “steal money” from public schools is a myth.

“Whose money is it?” he said. “Are teachers entitled to funding if they don’t do their job right?”

Given added that families are a “better arbiter” for where their children attend schools.

He also rebutted claims that private schools purposely exclude poor students. He said schools are prohibited from discriminating.

“School choice, unfortunately, has to exclude some students,” he said because schools are limited in their participation. “That’s not the fault of the schools but that of the state.”

Charter schools excel

Panelist Christian D’Andrea, education policy specialist for the MacIver Institute, noted that the Kenosha Unified School District’s charter schools outperform the other schools in the district.

He said while Unified scored 67 points out of 100 on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s scale, its charter schools performed at nearly 10 points higher.

What’s best for students

Panelist Kristi LaCroix, who teaches English at Unified’s LakeView Technology Academy, said she wants students to have the best teachers.

“We want you to walk into a classroom that is filled with cheerleaders for you,” she said after asking the audience to harken back to the best teacher they had.

Panelist Tony Katz of All Patriots Media of Los Angeles, praised Wisconsin for discussing vouchers, saying the issue should be less about political ideology and more about what was best for students.

Improve the system

Jean Lambert, who drove from Brookfield to attend the forum, said she would like improvement in public schools.

Moving money from struggling schools isn’t doing the best for children in the public schools, she said, because the resources to fund them are finite.

“That’s where I have a fundamental challenge in embracing choice,” she said.

John Pegues, of Pleasant Prairie, said he sends his children to private schools but wanted the state to help him as it does public school students.

“My children are worth every penny,” he said. “If my costs could be offset, that would be a great help.”

Source: Kenosha News – by Terry Flores

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This entry was posted on February 7, 2013 by in Charter Schools, School choice, Wisconsin and tagged , .

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