Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Soglin condemns state voucher school plan

Mayor Paul Soglin and advocates
for the Madison Metropolitan School District spoke out against Gov. Scott
Walker’s proposal to expand the private school voucher program to public schools
in the city at a press conference Monday.

Under a voucher program, the City of Madison would
pay private schools to allow students that would otherwise have gone to public
school to attend private school instead.

Arlene Silveira, a Madison Board of Education member, said it is wrong to take taxpayer money
and divert it away from public schools for children to go to private


“I find it appalling and devastating
to our community,” she said. “There is a strong correlation
between strong communities and good public schools. After last year’s
unprecedented budget cuts, I expected Walker to invest in public
education, not private education.”

Soglin also criticized Walker’s plan, which
would require public schools to continue to meet standards for
special education without requiring the “voucher schools” to meet those
standards. He said it is unfair to take money from public schools to
go to private schools that have no standards regarding special

However, Walker contended in a statement released Monday an expansion of the voucher program would give students alternatives to underperforming schools. 

“Every child, regardless of their zip code, deserves access to a great education,” Walker said. “While is is our goal to help struggling schools succeed, we need to make sure students and parents can choose the best option and make sure each child receives a truly great education.”

Marjorie Passman, vice president of the Madison Board of Education, said voucher schools are filled with teachers and staff who lack credentials and have unrestricted curriculum.
She said these schools make the poor pay for the rich to attend private
schools and that this will leave many students in crowded,
underfunded schools with their needs unmet.

“They only want money–to make money
from our children,” Passman said. “Those not chosen by the
lottery will return to the dying embers of our schools that have had
essential funding drained from them.”

Soglin said traumatic incidences, which
usually occur outside of school, are one of the major factors that contribute to how a student performs academically. That is not something a
teacher, principal, school board member or the superintendent can
control, he said.

Soglin also said the other major factor at work is funding for education. As the state cuts back on funding, schools
throughout Wisconsin are devastated, he said.

“It’s deeply troubling that in this
day and age, where we understand the nature of the problem and we have
documentation to how these so-called school reforms work, that a
proposal like this would be brought forward,” Soglin said

Passman said Walker’s plan to bring
voucher schools to Madison is another part of his political agenda and called Walker the “Joseph McCarthy of education.”

Soglin said students who stay in
Madison public schools tend to do well on standardized tests and cited scores for 10th grade math test results which show 70 percent
of Madison public school students performing at a proficient or
advanced level.

“As our schools go, so goes our
city,” Passman said. “That’s why we are united here against this

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