Voucher program enrollment up 8.7 percent, cost soars to $302 million

Enrollment in Wisconsin’s three taxpayer-funded private school voucher programs rose 8.7 percent this year, while the cost soared 12.3 percent to $302 million, according to a report released Tuesday by the Department of Public Instruction. Across the three programs (Milwaukee, Racine and statewide), 39,381 students received a voucher to attend one of the 279 participating private schools. That is an increase of 3,164 students and 43 schools compared to last school year. The cost of the three programs combined is estimated at $302 million for the 2018-19 school year, which is an increase of about $33 million (12.3 percent) from the prior year.

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‘No-excuses’ charter schools could do more harm than good, analysis finds

“No-excuses” charter schools – which promote strict disciplinary policies, longer school days, and intensive academic tutoring at the expense of the arts and physical education – could do more harm than good, according to a new review by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. “While supporters of ‘no-excuses’ charter schools say these practices improve student achievement, they fail to acknowledge the potential negative effects these practices have on students, teachers, and families,” according to the report.

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Vouchers are far worse for student achievement than previously thought, analysis concludes

A new analysis by the Center for American Progress concludes that private school vouchers are more harmful to student achievement than previously thought and that students attending private voucher schools miss out on approximately one-third of a year of classroom learning. “This analysis builds on a large body of voucher program evaluations in Louisiana, Indiana, Ohio, and Washington, D.C., all of which show that students attending participating private schools perform significantly worse than their peers in public schools—especially in math,” according to the summary titled The Highly Negative Impacts of Vouchers.

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Examination finds ‘significant concerns’ over Education Savings Accounts

A new policy brief published by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) examines the emergence of ESA policies and makes recommendations for policy makers who are considering adopting or expanding these programs. The policy brief, The State of Education Savings Account Programs in the United States, found significant concerns with ESA programs and a stunning lack of research evidence to support ongoing calls for continued expansion. 

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At request of Janesville Education Association, school board votes to support Voucher Transparency Bill

At the request of the Janesville Education Association, the Janesville School Board this week voted, 9-0, to support the Wisconsin Taxpayer Voucher Transparency Bill. The bill would require school districts to inform local taxpayers of how much the private school voucher program is costing them. The resolution notes that, statewide, property taxes increased by over $25 million in 2016-17 due to school boards levying to offset lost aid due to the voucher system.

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