“Catholic tradition has long recognized the important role of parents as the primary educators of their children. We strongly believe that families of modest means should not be denied a choice of school just because of their economic status,” said Bishop Ricken in a May 16 statement issued by the Communications Department.. “Educational opportunities such as the voucher program ensure that this opportunity is a reality for all families, not just for those who can afford it.”
A proposal expanding the program into Green Bay has not yet been formally introduced into the State Legislature. Under the current Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP), qualifying students receive a $6,442 voucher paid to the MPCP school of their choice. Diocesan officials have said they will study the particulars of the legislation both as a diocese and in concert with the other four Wisconsin dioceses through the Wisconsin Catholic Conference.
Dr. Joseph Bound, diocesan director of education, emphasized that support for the expanded program is not a negative reflection on the area’s public school system: “Educators, families, students, and administrators in Catholic schools of the diocese see themselves as partners with our Green Bay public school counterparts,” he said. “We appreciate this partnership and will continue to work together for the benefit of the students, their families, and our community.”
“We recognize that participating in this parental choice program includes certain measures of accountability to maintain proper stewardship of our state’s resources. We welcome those measures as long as they do not stifle our mission, nor affect the distinctive educational experience and Catholic identity that our schools provide,” said Bound.
If enacted into law, the 10 elementary schools in the GRACE system would likely absorb new students into each of its current campuses. Notre Dame Academy, an area high school, has indicated that they also have capacity and a willingness to welcome new students for the 2011/2012 school year under an expanded voucher program.