School officials speak out against vouchers
MADISON Public school district leaders joined together Tuesday to speak out against Gov. Scott Walker's plan to expand private school vouchers into their communities, while a new poll shows deep division in Wisconsin over the program.
Democrats on the Legislature's budget committee also targeted the proposed expansion to nine school districts in the opening day of briefings on Walker's two-year budget.
Walker's plan to expand vouchers, in which taxpayers are paid a subsidy to send their children to private school, has been a lightning rod of criticism since the governor proposed it last month. Even Senate Republicans, who say they support growing the program, have said it won't happen as Walker proposed.
But a new statewide poll shows the public can be swayed in its opinion of the program.
Almost half of Wisconsin residents say they haven't heard enough about voucher schools to form an opinion, according to the Marquette University law school poll. Some 27 percent of respondents said they have a favorable view of voucher schools while 24 percent have an unfavorable view. But a full 43 percent said they hadn't heard enough about them to form an opinion.
"There probably is still more room for political leadership on both sides to try to put forward convincing arguments and move opinion in their direction," pollster Charles Franklin said.
The initial poll question about vouchers only asked for favorability perceptions without addressing what voucher schools are. In a follow-up question, respondents were told that vouchers are payments from the state using taxpayer money to fund parents' choices of private or religious schools.