VIDEO REPORT: Walker to Expand Voucher Program

UPDATED Monday, February 18, 2013--5:45 p.m.

MADISON--The governor's budget plans for education include expanding school vouchers through the Wisconsin Parental Choice program.

The expansion only affects districts that have two or more schools graded as either failing to meet expectations or meeting few expectations on school report cards. They also must have at least four thousand students.

The criteria mean communities like Madison would be included in the expansion plan.

"There is really very little evidence that vouchers improve the quality of education for the kids who participate," said Madison Mayor Paul Soglin. "And what's really tragic is that the school systems where they're used are not improving and doing very poorly."

We also talked with some Madison parents about the proposal.
"I think that the idea of having options is good, but I think that also a better way to use resources is to get more parents involved in schools," said Cara Jenkins, a mother of four. "...If every parent would help their child to do well in school then we wouldn't have failing schools." "I guess I like to see the funding continue to support the public schools," said Bobbi Fey, a mother of two. "And if parents decide to go with the private, that you know, they do it on their own means versus diverting the funds from the public schools."

While reactions have been mixed, today, the governor defended his plan. "My goal is long term is not necessarily to add more districts that would be included in choice," said Gov. Walker. "But is to have more districts where all their schools are either high achievers or rapidly improving schools. That's really our goal and our focus and that's where our funds are focused in on."

Posted Monday, February 18, 2013 --- 8:30 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker tells The Associated Press in an exclusive interview that he is proposing Wisconsin's voucher school program expand in such a way that nine districts would immediately qualify, including Madison and Green Bay.

The expansion would only be allowed in districts that have at least two school buildings receiving a D or F grade on state report cards and have at least 4,000 students.

Walker provided details of the plan in advance to the AP before releasing it publicly on Monday. It will be included in his budget delivered to the Legislature on Wednesday.

The plan is certain to unleash a tough fight.

The other seven districts that would immediately qualify under Walker's plan are Beloit, Fond du Lac, Kenosha, Sheboygan, Superior, Waukesha, and West Allis-West Milwaukee.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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