FFRF calls upon key Wisconsin Senators to end voucher expansion

In an effort to further highlight the dangers of the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee education budget, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent letters on Tuesday to select members of the Wisconsin Senate, drawing their attention to the harm facing public schools within their legislative districts. FFRF’s letters emphasized the consequences of creating a publicly-funded parochial education system.

The Joint Finance Committee voted on May 20 to remove the 1,000 student cap on statewide vouchers that send low-income students to private religious schools. If passed by the Legislature, voucher limits would increase at a rate of 1% of a district’s enrolled students each year. After 10 years, there would be no limit to the number of students attending parochial schools at public expense.

FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott’s letters to 13 senators who have been supportive of previous voucher measures brought to light the financial impact on public schools within each senator’s judicial district.

In a letter to Senator Richard Gudex, Elliott advised that public schools would lose critical funding. Between the Oshkosh Area School District and the Fond Du Lac School District, nearly 7,500 students would be eligible to attend voucher schools, which is more than 40% of the students currently enrolled in those districts. The loss of thousands of students would be devastating to both school districts.

A letter to Senator Luther Olsen noted that 75% of the students in the Adams-Friendship Area School District would be eligible for vouchers and more than 1,000 students in the Waupaca School District would be eligible for private vouchers.

“How can our public school system continue to operate if untold numbers of students could leave for religious education, taking corresponding funding with them?” asked Elliott. “Wisconsin’s treasured public school system would be destroyed.”

FFRF has called upon legislators to support Wisconsin’s constitutionally-created public education system rather than to advance voucher schemes that siphon money from public schools to religious institutions.

FFRF, a national state/church watchdog with over 22,500 members, is based in Madison, Wis.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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