The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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August 10, 2001 Issue
Special Section:
College/Back to School

Parental choice in Milwaukee remains intact

Program allows 15,000 low income students to attend private schools

The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program will remain intact and preserve the right of participating parents to choose the best educational environment for their children under an agreement on the state budget.

The program had come under significant scrutiny during budget deliberations and faced proposals offered by Senate Democrats that would have effectively ended the program.

The program allows up to 15,000 low income parents in Milwaukee to choose private schools for the children. Currently, about 9,600 students attend 103 private schools under the program. Studies show that the program results in higher parent satisfaction, increased parental involvement, and positive responses from public schools in Milwaukee. The program also has generated $55 million of planned and completed private investment to expand classroom space in some of the most distressed neighborhoods in the city.

Members of the legislature's conference committee announced agreement on a budget package, July 25, 2001, in Madison. The agreement includes resolution of a funding issue that concerned school districts outside Milwaukee. The new method of funding ensures that no school district gains or loses as a consequence of school choice.

"Parents not only in Milwaukee, but in the state of Wisconsin have been affirmed by the state legislature that their role in the development of their child's values and education is a right that will be supported by the state. The common good prevailed," stated Lee Nagel, President of the Wisconsin Council of Religious and Independent Schools.

Preservation of the choice program was achieved in large part through the leadership of Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, Rep. John Gard and their colleagues in the Republican Assembly Caucus, and the efforts of Representative Antonio Riley, Sen. Alberta Darling, Sen. Bob Welch, and Gov. Scott McCallum.

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