Gov. Walker’s Misplaced Budget Priorities: Education Privatization Devastating to Public Schools

Proposes Taxpayer Support for Private Voucher Schools Skyrocket Up Over 40%

MADISON, Wis. — An analysis of Gov. Walker’s 2013-15 budget plan reveals a massive increase in the percentage of state taxpayer dollars going to the unaccountable private school voucher program. Meanwhile, state support for K-12 public schools is essentially held flat, even after record budget cuts in the last budget.

One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross commented, “It was wrong when Gov. Walker signed the largest cuts to K-12 public schools in state history while giving $2.3 billion in tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations in the last session. And it is wrong for Gov. Walker to freeze spending on public school students while providing massive increases to the unaccountable private school voucher program in this budget.”

According to the Department of Public Instruction, Gov. Walker’s budget proposes an increase in funding for the private school voucher program of over 40%. In the 2012-13 school year, taxpayers are paying over $154 million for vouchers, and that amount would rise to over $227 million in 2014-15.

In addition, the proposed Walker budget freezes per pupil spending for public school students, but provides an increase in the value of the taxpayer funded voucher given to parents to send their children to private schools ranging from over $600 for K-8 students to over $1,400 for high school students.

Numerous media accounts from across the state report concern about the impact of Gov. Walker’s radical education privatization on public schools. The school superintendent of Waukesha schools recently was quoted as saying the Walker plan could be “very devastating” to the district.

Ross noted that the Bradley Foundation, headed by Gov. Walker’s campaign co-chair Michael Grebe, has spent over $500 million on right-wing causes, most notably education privatization, since 2000.

“Gov. Walker’s budget vividly shows he is willing to sacrifice the quality of our public schools and our children’s education to make himself the darling of the Tea Party extremist and the out-of-state billionaires that support the radical privatization of public education,” concluded Ross.

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One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.