Thursday, February 09, 2006

Doyle Boosts Milwaukee Voucher Expansion Proposal to 20%

In an even stronger sign he wants to expand the Milwaukee school voucher program, Governor Doyle has agreeed to increase the program's enrollment cap from 15% to 20%.

Based on enrollment figures for the voucher program, there has been an average of 1205 additional students who join the program each year between the 2002-2003 school year and the 2005-2006 school year. Thus, increasing the enrollment cap to 20%--or approximately 20,000 students--will ensure that any eligible Milwaukee youth who wants to attend a voucher school will be able to do so for at least the next four school years. (Right now there are about 14,571 students in the program.)

And if we believe the projections of a recent report by the non-partisan Public Policy Forum, which detects a leveling off in voucher enrollment over the past few years, increasing the enrollment cap to 20% may allow eligible students into the program indefinitely.

While Republican state legislators have not made any motion of coming down from the 100% level they originally proposed, those of us who want to see the voucher program expanded in a judicious manner that simultaneously protects important MPS programs and Milwaukee taxpayers are hopeful they'll join Doyle at the negotiating table soon.

Unfortunately, here's the response to Doyle's offer from Republican point-person on this issue, Assembly Speaker John Gard: "It just seems like the governor is trying to get past the election so he can then try to dismantle the program, and I'm not going to let that happen." There's, of course, absolutely no evidence for this assertion. And we're supposed to believe that by agreeing to expand the voucher program enough to ensure its solvency for at least four years and potentially forever, Doyle is playing out his master plan to dismantle it nine months from now? Talk about a conspiracy theory. In his four years in office, when has Doyle ever made a formal proposal to dismantle the voucher program?

What's more, if Doyle is supposedly the one who's involved in this issue purely for political gain, why is he the only one proposing compromises at the negotiating table?

Can we stop side-stepping negotiations, running the false attack ads, participating in shameless political grandstanding, and going door to door to swell up unwarranted fears so that we can start getting down to the public business of fairly expanding this important program?


Blogger Brent said...

Have you heard the WEAC ad calling for the either the cap or ELIMINATING choice? WEAC is a major donor to Doyles political funds and Doyle listens to what the say.

February 10, 2006  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

I have heard the MTEA ad. I comment on it here..

I think the words "or eliminate it" were a mistake to have in the ad politically, but simply because the MTEA is anti-vouchers and they donate heavily to Doyle doen't mean he will do everything they want. If that was the case, why hasn't Doyle once made a formal proposal to eliminate the voucher program? Why has he made a proposal to expand the enrollment, lift the income eligibility cap, and eliminate all prior-year eligibility rules?

Besides, if Doyle's master plan is to turn around and dismantle the program in his next term--which, again, there is no direct evidence to support--how exactly could he possibly go about doing that without Republican support?

This line of thinking that it's a big Democratic conspiracy to dismantle the voucher program is just a means for the Republicans to stall on this issue as long as possible.

February 10, 2006  

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