FFRF: Consequences of Wisconsin statewide voucher expansion showing


The recent statewide voucher expansion in Wisconsin is starting to reveal its harm to public school districts and secular education, according to the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released enrollment information on Oct. 27 for the expanded statewide voucher program. The number of students in the program went up by more than 250% compared to last year, with a total of 2,514 students receiving vouchers to attend private schools this year. The Wisconsin Legislature removed the 1,000-student cap on statewide vouchers that was in place in prior years.

DPI reports that school districts that are impacted by the voucher program will see an aid reduction that totals $11.9 million.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of funding religious education with public money,” said FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott.

With the enrollment cap removed, public school districts will start to lose an increasing amount of funding that will go to private religious schools. Each of the 82 schools eligible to receive voucher money in the statewide program is a religious school.

Vouchers are subsidizing religious schools that otherwise would have stagnant or decreasing enrollment. In Madison, Rev. Tia Sierra who runs Lighthouse Christian School, told the Wisconsin State Journal, “Overall, the voucher program has been really great for our school.” Half of the students attending the school now receive vouchers paid for by taxpayers.

FFRF has long called for an end to the voucher program in Wisconsin and has highlighted the lack of accountability. The Milwaukee voucher program, which is the longest running voucher program in the country, demonstrates the lack of accountability. Just nine days into the school year, a troubled voucher school closed down in September amid mismanagement of funds.

“Taxpayers have no means of holding these schools accountable. Where public money goes, public accountability must follow,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF Co-President.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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