MADISON, Wis. — A recent news report reveals $139 million in state tax dollars went to private schools in Milwaukee kicked out of the school voucher program, supported by Rep. Howard Marklein, for failing to meet basic standards for things like student safety and financial transparency. Yet as State Representative, Marklein voted to cut state aid for K-12 public schools in the 17th Senate District by over $25 million.
“Gov. Walker and the Madison party bosses are throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at unaccountable private voucher schools as part of their radical privatization agenda,” said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “And Howard Marklein has gone right along with them, voting to support failing private voucher schools in Milwaukee and slashing aid for Southwestern Wisconsin public schools by over $25 million.”
According to the report, 50 private schools participating in the state funded private school voucher program in Milwaukee have been forced out of the program for failing to meet minimal standards on issues like student safety, providing an adequate curriculum and accounting for their use of tax dollars. Since 2004 these unaccountable schools took in $139 million in state tax dollars.
The current Republican state legislative leadership and Gov. Walker have aggressively sought to expand the private school voucher program across the state, an agenda also supported by Marklein. In addition to the reported $139 million going to schools fraught with problems, data suggests most of the students participating in recent expansions of the voucher program were already attending those schools without the need for state taxpayer dollars to pay their tuition.
Marklein has on numerous occasions voted against efforts to increase the accountability of private voucher schools while supporting efforts to expand the program and send even more public tax dollars to voucher schools. As for public schools, Marklein voted for the largest cuts to K-12 public schools in state history. As part of those cuts, school districts in Southwestern Wisconsin lost over $25 million, while spending was increased for private voucher schools in Milwaukee and elsewhere.
Pro-voucher ideologues and special interests have appreciated Marklein’s loyalty, donating thousands of dollars directly to his campaign. The pro-voucher special interest group the American Federation for Children also bragged that in 2012 part of the $2.3 million plus they spent on state legislative races went to help their lackey in Southwestern Wisconsin, Howard Marklein.
Ross concluded, “Over 99 percent of the time Howard Marklein votes the way his party leaders and special interests want. For public education that means he’s slashed over $25 million from the schools in Southwestern Wisconsin, stood by while $139 million went to private voucher schools in Milwaukee that were so bad they got kicked out of the program and even voted for more unaccountable voucher schools.”