Thursday, January 19, 2006

The real choice on school choice

In case anyone is wondering what the real debate is about on school choice, and what the proposals of Gov. Doyle and the Republican legislators are, Seth Zlotocha of the In Effect blog has performed a public service and posted them.

It cuts through all the rhetoric. What you'll find is that Doyle is not trying to end the choice program, but has actually made a reasonable offer.

Here's the rundown from In Effect:

Doyle Proposal

Increase school voucher cap from 15% to 18%

Eliminate all prior-year eligibility rules, thereby allowing children to participate in the voucher program regardless of where they attended school the previous year
Increase the income eligibility cap for families who want to participate in the voucher program from 175% to 220% of the federal poverty level.

Allow MPS to count each voucher student at a rate of 45%, phased in over five years, when calculating state aid; all of the funds that come from this must be used by MPS for instruction.

Starting in the 2007-2008 school year, increase SAGE funding from $2000 per participating student to $2500 per participating student

Increase the enrollment cap on the Racine Charter School from 400 to 480

Implement mandatory WKCE standardized testing in grades 3-8 and 10 of all schools participating in the voucher program

Starting in the 2007-2008 school year, make it mandatory for all voucher program schools to be accredited by one of a number of specified independent accrediting authorities

Republican Proposal (Vukmir & Darling)

Remove all enrollment caps on the school voucher program

Undertake a privately-funded study of the school voucher program in Milwaukee led by researchers from Georgetown University

Make standardized testing voluntary for voucher schools, but make it mandatory they release the test scores if they do implement the testing

There they are—the two positions as they stand now. It’s time to keep the public discussion on the merits of these points moving forward.


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