Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Significant Rise in New Voucher Schools for 2006-2007

The Wisconsin DPI issued a statement today that 39 new voucher schools applied to participate in the Milwaukee program next year. This represents an increase of 20% over the current number of voucher schools, which brings the 2006-2007 total to 160 voucher schools.

Between the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 school years the number of voucher schools only increased by about 5.5%, which makes the jump between this year and next year significant. It's clear the recent increase in the total voucher program enrollment by 50% played a big role in this spike.

What remains to be seen, however, is whether these new voucher schools are of a high enough quality to both stick around and adequately educate voucher students. After last year 8 voucher schools either closed or otherwise dropped out of the program and this year that will be the case for 7 schools.

If the number of schools dropped spikes after the next couple years to go along with the spike in the number of new participating schools, it makes for pretty clear evidence that the program is being allowed to grow too quickly.

Also in question is the amount of public money that will need to be poured into the oversight of these new voucher schools. Without question it's more important to keep a close eye on new schools than it is more established ones like St. Joan Antida, Divine Savior Holy Angels, Messmer, Milwaukee Lutheran, etc, thereby making it more time-consuming and costly as the number of new voucher schools increases.

UPDATE: The DPI decided today to cut off funding to another voucher school effective immediately. The school is Tucker's Institute of Learning, which does not appear on the list of 2006-2007 voucher schools put out by the DPI today, so the numbers I cite above should still be accurate.

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