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67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

Old 08-19-13, 11:00 PM
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67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

Due to a "misinterpretation," public school students are not given priority when applying for vouchers. How long until legislators increase the income cap and/or insert exceptions to the rule?

So much for that "civil rights movement" thing...

Most students applying for state voucher program attend private schools at Journal Sentinel

The state Department of Public Instruction named the top 25 private schools — all religious — that received the most applications from voucher-eligible students this month. Only those schools will be able to educate students with the help of a state tuition voucher worth $6,442 per student annually in the first year of the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program...

The majority — 67%, or 1,393 students — were already attending a private school last year without the help of taxpayer dollars.
Another new twist revealed Thursday is that public-school applicants will not get priority for a voucher over private-school applicants.

DPI spokesman John Johnson said that's because the statute says public-school students would have priority if there had been 500 or fewer eligible students who applied. Above 500, the law says only siblings of the student drawn in the lottery get preference, Johnson said.

Bender, from School Choice Wisconsin, said lawmakers didn't intend for that to happen. He blamed the DPI for misinterpreting the statute.

"The Legislature may have to address that in the fall," he said.
The Legislature MAY have to address that? I won't hold my breath.

The latest data resumed the polarizing debate about voucher programs and sending public money to private, religious schools that don't have to follow the same regulations as traditional public schools.

"The voucher program is no longer providing the escape option from a failing public school; it has become a new state entitlement program that will cost taxpayers and directly compete with our constitutionally required public school system," Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts (D-Madison), a staunch critic of vouchers, said in a statement.

Scot Ross, executive director of the liberal advocacy group OneWisconsin Now, said the statistics "expose the voucher program as a scam on state taxpayers, orchestrated by well-funded education privatization forces."

Last edited by Ghostbuster; 08-19-13 at 11:08 PM.
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Old 08-20-13, 05:12 AM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

This shouldn't be that much of a surprise. I'm sure the private schools' financial assistance offices were working overtime to get income eligible families to apply for the program, starting with families they were already working with.

Besides, I thought voucher opponents didn't want kids leaving public schools.
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Old 08-20-13, 06:36 AM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

I really don't see what the issue here is, other than the law perhaps being slightly misrepresented.

Two quotes:

The majority — 67%, or 1,393 students — were already attending a private school last year without the help of taxpayer dollars.
"If you are under 185% of the (federal) poverty level, the public policy decision has been made that those parents are eligible."
So these families make less than double the federal poverty level, which is not a lot of money at all. So what if the child is already in private school. I suspect the vast majority of them have put themselves into substantial financial stress to see that child there already and would have been eligible had they not already done so. Why on earth should they not be eligible now? There is no guarantee that many of these families were going to even be able to continue to afford the tuition without the program's assistance.

Sounds to me like some people want to punish some pretty darn low income folks who already make their children's education their top financial priority because they already make their children's education their top financial priority.
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Old 08-20-13, 08:26 AM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

The part about public school students not getting priority doesn't make much sense. The article says that the law is written to say that only if there were FEWER than 500 applicants (for the 500 vouchers available) then the public school students would be given priority. What's the point of having priority if there are enough vouchers for every applicant?
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Old 08-20-13, 09:25 AM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

How can you even live being 185% below poverty level. I'd like to see that number face reality.
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Old 08-20-13, 09:43 AM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

I don't understand the outrage. When vouchers were (temporarily) a thing in Utah, I applied for them even though my kids were already in private school. Why wouldn't somebody want a tuition break?
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Old 08-20-13, 09:51 AM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

Originally Posted by DVD Polizei View Post
How can you even live being 185% below poverty level. I'd like to see that number face reality.

It's a big world out there.
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Old 08-20-13, 10:04 AM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
I really don't see what the issue here is, other than the law perhaps being slightly misrepresented.

Two quotes:





So these families make less than double the federal poverty level, which is not a lot of money at all. So what if the child is already in private school. I suspect the vast majority of them have put themselves into substantial financial stress to see that child there already and would have been eligible had they not already done so. Why on earth should they not be eligible now? There is no guarantee that many of these families were going to even be able to continue to afford the tuition without the program's assistance.

Sounds to me like some people want to punish some pretty darn low income folks who already make their children's education their top financial priority because they already make their children's education their top financial priority.
I agree. If there's an income limit in place, who cares if they were already going to private school, why should people who make the same amount of money but haven't made the same financial sacrifice to send their kids to private school get an advantage over those who have?

Also, you'd think if no advantage was given in general, that the numbers would be about even or even slant towards the public school kids, if there was such a demand to get into private schools and they outnumbered the kids already going to private school. In fact, there is an advantage given to large families, who have more chances to get picked, then get preference for their siblings.
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Old 08-20-13, 10:21 AM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

Originally Posted by DVD Polizei View Post
How can you even live being 185% below poverty level. I'd like to see that number face reality.
The word "of" is pretty important in there.

The quote "under 185% of the (federal) poverty level" describes anything less than 185% well, of, the poverty level. Not 185% below poverty level.
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Old 08-20-13, 10:26 AM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

Originally Posted by fujishig View Post
I agree. If there's an income limit in place, who cares if they were already going to private school, why should people who make the same amount of money but haven't made the same financial sacrifice to send their kids to private school get an advantage over those who have?
I'll even add a personal story here. I was a smart kid, did well on all the tests of aptitude, etc., but when I was in fourth grade my parents moved us from Massachusetts to Alabama. Due to a mandatory racial balancing system in place within the city schools, myself and other kids in my mostly white neighborhood were bussed 30 minutes each way to a school that was about 90% black, passing at least three elementary schools that were closer to our homes along the way. The racial makeup of the school was not the problem. The fact that the school was crap was. This, along with a number of other factors I am sure, led to my grades plummeting, particularly in 6th grade.

Now, my parents made quite a bit more than 185% of the poverty line but we were hardly rolling in dough. They pulled me out of that school and put me into a pretty expensive private school, also making me repeat 6th grade even though I had not officially failed it the first time. I spent only two years in that private school before going back to a pretty lousy public junior high school in Alabama for a year and then a pretty good public high school in Chicago. That two years made all the difference in the world and at a very critical time for my schooling. Everything I have accomplished academically and professionally since that time I have to thank for them doing that, and I know it took them awhile to recover financially from the costs.

That private school had a lot of "rich kids" in it, but it also had a lot of kids from families who were pretty obviously far worse off than mine, parents who were sacrificing and pinching pennies to get their children a good education in a city where the public schools were just not up to snuff. I'm sure at least a few of these families were hovering around or below that 185% level. If anyone wants to tell me that these families don't get to have the same chance at a voucher program as families that haven't made that sacrifice but could have (and I do not mean to imply that many of the applicant families could not have afforded such a sacrifice), I will kindly invite them to pound sand.

The 185% limit should be all that matters.
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Old 08-20-13, 11:46 AM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

I think the issue is that vouchers are often sold to the public with an argument that goes something along the lines of "Lots of kids are trapped in terrible public schools. They want to go to private schools, but they can't because they don't have the money. If we give them a voucher, that will put a good private school education within reach." But if the data from Wisconsin are suggesting that the vouchers are going to people who are already in private school, then the argument above is unture -- vouchers don't put private school within reach for anybody who isn't already going.

That said, that's not the only argument for vouchers -- I'm sure jfoobar's family would have benefitted financially from vouchers, and I'm sure there were things they had to sacrifice that a voucher would have helped. And the point jfoobar raises -- a poor family that is sacrificing to send their kid to private school shouldn't be penalized just because they are already making sacrifices -- is a very good one.
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Old 08-20-13, 02:11 PM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
But if the data from Wisconsin are suggesting that the vouchers are going to people who are already in private school, then the argument above is unture -- vouchers don't put private school within reach for anybody who isn't already going.
If the headline is to be believed, 33% of the applicants are in public school.
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Old 08-20-13, 02:28 PM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

Right, and since this is a random lottery (unless it's fixed like the NBA lottery), that means that far more parents with kids already going to private school applied for the voucher.

Quick question, though: is tuition the only barrier to entry for a private school? I thought most private schools are also selective in who they take... or do they have to take everyone who falls into this program?
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Old 08-20-13, 02:42 PM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

I don't know how Wisconsin works, but in Utah with our aborted voucher program the private schools could still be as selective as they wanted with prospective students. Unlike a charter school, which has to take all comers (if too many applicants, a lottery is invoked).
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Old 08-20-13, 02:50 PM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

So if a family gets a voucher, but the kid doesn't make it in, does that voucher go to the next kid (or do they try again with a different school?)
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Old 08-20-13, 02:53 PM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

Originally Posted by fujishig View Post
Right, and since this is a random lottery (unless it's fixed like the NBA lottery), that means that far more parents with kids already going to private school applied for the voucher.
I assume you meant that far more parents of kids already attending private school will actually receive vouchers.

However, that's not really a relevant distinction since that would also be true if everyone who applied got vouchers.

Quick question, though: is tuition the only barrier to entry for a private school? I thought most private schools are also selective in who they take... or do they have to take everyone who falls into this program?
I'm sure that varies substantially by private school. For example, I'm sure there are many private schools that have a policy that requires them to try and admit many low-income students to balance out the "rich kid" student body.
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Old 08-20-13, 02:55 PM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

Originally Posted by fujishig View Post
So if a family gets a voucher, but the kid doesn't make it in, does that voucher go to the next kid (or do they try again with a different school?)
I think the voucher is just like a coupon that can be presented to any school.
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Old 08-20-13, 03:23 PM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
I assume you meant that far more parents of kids already attending private school will actually receive vouchers.

However, that's not really a relevant distinction since that would also be true if everyone who applied got vouchers.
I meant that given that 67% of the students receiving vouchers were already going to private school, than logically more of them must have applied.

However if this voucher was somehow tied into them getting into the school in the first place, then that would tend to favor the ones who are already in, which is why I asked the other question.
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Old 08-20-13, 03:29 PM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

Originally Posted by fujishig View Post
I meant that given that 67% of the students receiving vouchers were already going to private school, than logically more of them must have applied.
The OP's article only cites figures of applications to the program. 67% of applicants are already enrolled in private schools.
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Old 08-20-13, 03:51 PM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

Ah, right, I need a course in reading comprehension.
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Old 08-20-13, 04:20 PM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

Originally Posted by fujishig View Post
Ah, right, I need a course in reading comprehension.
Perhaps there's a voucher that would help pay for that course.
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Old 08-20-13, 04:23 PM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

"The voucher program is no longer providing the escape option from a failing public school; it has become a new state entitlement program that will cost taxpayers and directly compete with our constitutionally required public school system," Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts (D-Madison), a staunch critic of vouchers, said in a statement.

Just like every piece of legislation out there.

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
I think the issue is that vouchers are often sold to the public with an argument that goes something along the lines of "Lots of kids are trapped in terrible public schools. They want to go to private schools, but they can't because they don't have the money. If we give them a voucher, that will put a good private school education within reach." But if the data from Wisconsin are suggesting that the vouchers are going to people who are already in private school, then the argument above is unture -- vouchers don't put private school within reach for anybody who isn't already going.
Sounds a lot like Obamacare to me. A lot of lower and middle class people will still not be able to afford it, or if it is paid for, not be able to pay the co-pay, their deductible, etc.

"Education is a right!!!"

Originally Posted by fujishig View Post
Quick question, though: is tuition the only barrier to entry for a private school? I thought most private schools are also selective in who they take... or do they have to take everyone who falls into this program?
In WA, they have to take anyone. They have relaxed rules about kicking them out, though.
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Old 08-20-13, 05:21 PM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post

"Education is a right!!!"
If the government can jail you for not sending your kids to school, or confiscate your kids for not sending them to school, then the government better make sure there's a school to send them too. Pretty sure it would be a violation of your rights to send you to jail, or confiscate your kids, for not sending them to a place that doesn't exist.
Ergo, if the law requires kids go to school, it violates your rights not to provide a school for them to go to.
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Old 08-20-13, 05:50 PM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

My family is below 185% of the poverty line
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Old 08-20-13, 06:10 PM
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Re: 67% of Wisconsin voucher applicants ALREADY attend a private school.

Originally Posted by rw2516 View Post
If the government can jail you for not sending your kids to school, or confiscate your kids for not sending them to school, then the government better make sure there's a school to send them too. Pretty sure it would be a violation of your rights to send you to jail, or confiscate your kids, for not sending them to a place that doesn't exist.
Ergo, if the law requires kids go to school, it violates your rights not to provide a school for them to go to.
I know it is a right for most (all?) states. I just find it funny that healthcare was declared a right but when the same type of thing is done for something that actually is, it is the opposite side of the isle that is mad.
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