‘V(ouch)ers hurt our public schools’ billboard goes up in Madison


The Freedom From Religion Foundation just posted a timely message, “V(ouch)ers hurt our public schools,” on a billboard at the corner of 405 S. Park St. and West Washington Avenue in Madison, Wis.

Although the message is “punny,” what’s at stake is no laughing matter. FFRF seeks to draw taxpayer and Joint Committee on Finance attention to the dangers of Gov. Scott Walker’s unprecedented proposal to remove the cap on statewide voucher enrollment.

“Unfortunately, Wisconsin is ground zero in the assault upon our public schools,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president.

Under Walker’s budget proposal, more than half of Madison public school students and more than 40 percent of students statewide, would be encouraged to leave public schools to attend private, mostly parochial schools, plundering thousands of dollars per student from public schools.

Walker’s previously expanded statewide voucher system has resulted in a situation in which 100 percent of voucher schools are Christian and 73 percent of students attend Catholic schools.

The billboard, which went up late yesterday and will stay up for a month, follows a two-week blitz of television advertising by the Madison-based national state/church watchdog. Two 30-second spots have been alternating on the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. news on WISC-TV (CBS), warning: “Walker wants to take money from our public schools and use it to support someone else’s religion. Your tax dollars shouldn’t fund religiously segregated schools.” FFRF’s April TV campaign ends with a spot during the airing of “CBS Sunday Morning.”

The issue-oriented advertising is groundbreaking for FFRF. “We’re sounding the alarm,” Gaylor said. “The numerous other cuts and proposals in Walker’s budget are distracting everyone and dominating the headlines. Nobody seems to be paying attention to the gravest threat in the budget — a voucher scheme that if enacted would ultimately destroy our public, secular school system.”

FFRF has created a web page, ffrf.org/stopvouchers, to inform the Wisconsin public on the dangers of expanding vouchers. In May, FFRF will take its “ouch!” warning to a billboard at 1201 Regent St. near the Charter Street intersection.

FFRF has 22,000 nonreligious members nationwide, including more than 1,300 in Wisconsin.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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