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Off the Publisher’s Desk – 6-5-2013


A couple of weeks ago Wallace Lindholm, former Superintendent at the Glenwood City schools asked me about the governor’s budget bill with the school voucher proposal in it. I said that I would support voucher for students. I believe that as a free people that we have choices and in the governor’s budget, with school vouchers parents have a choice to choose the school that they feel is best for their kids.

 Ever since God was taken out of the public schools I felt that parents should have an alternative to the public schools and a private education could address this problem. A few weeks ago I printed the first amendment of the constitution, which says in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” It does not say freedom from religion.

But as the old saying goes, “Love at first site is often cured by a second look.” The voucher system that is in place in Milwaukee has not achieved what was hoped for.

More than half of Milwaukee’s 110 voucher schools have at least 95 percent of students on publicly-funded vouchers. In one-fifth of these schools, every student receives a voucher. Yet because voucher schools are still classified as “private”, they can and do ignore Wisconsin’s open records and meeting laws. “It’s a double standard that undermines transparency and shields information from parents and public,” says Sarah Karon of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.

Early drafts of Gov. Walker’s proposal to expand the voucher program to nine school districts included a statewide accountability system, the Milwaukee Journal reported, but Legislators scrapped those plans.

I believe that the voucher system was hoped to help students improve on the statewide testing but apparently it has not and I find that it mirrors the Head Start program which in my estimate is a colossal failure and a burden on the federal budget and taxpayer.

Wisconsin still has the “open enrollment” which you can move your children from the one public school into another public school district. It has several roadblocks to do that, and it still leaves your student in a public school. But I must defend the public school system as one that does a very fine job for our kids. However, does our local small schools prepare our kids as good as bigger public school that have more classes to offer just because they are bigger? Is bigger better?

One of the things that the public school has to contend with is that they have to accept every student, even the students who are disruptive and are not motivated to learn.

If you look at the history of our local communities, our forefathers believed in education for their children. One of the first public buildings in any community that sprang up as the woods were cleared away was a school.

But I hope that the school voucher program can be part of our state’s education choice, but much work needs to be done and information needs to be put together where the public and private schools work together to make education better to meet the needs for the future.

— Carlton