61 Percent of Wisconsin Voters Support Expanding School Choice

In a new poll by Public Opinion Strategies, 61% of voters in Wisconsin favor “Expanding Wisconsin’s school choice program to allow every Wisconsin child to attend the public or private, including religious schools, of their choice.” Commissioned by the Education Action Group, the poll also found that 58% of voters oppose eliminating school choice and vouchers in the Badger State.

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Gov. Scott Walker backs expanding school choice by increasing the number of charters and vouchers in Wisconsin. In his most recent State of the State speech, Walker argues parents should have “the opportunity to choose legitimate alternatives to failing schools.”

Wisconsin is home to the largest and oldest school voucher program, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. For more than 20 years, this has provided school choice to thousands of low-income families and was defended by the Institute for Justice in court. In 1998, in a huge victory for families, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the Milwaukee school choice program as constitutional.

Back in 1990, only 337 students at seven schools used vouchers in Milwaukee. Since then, this program has blossomed, expanding opportunities for more than 20,000 students at 102 schools in 2010. Last year, the program grew to include all of Milwaukee County and Racine. In addition, more than 40,000 students were enrolled in Wisconsin’s 233 public charter schools in 2010, according to the Heritage Foundation. Let’s hope all the kids in Wisconsin soon have a shot at a quality education.

Last year, New Hampshire and Virginia were the latest states to adopt school choice legislation. Meanwhile, Texas is also considering the expansion of school choice by increasing the number of charter schools and possibly implementing a new tax credit scholarship program for low-income children.

-- Nick Sibilla

Nick Sibilla is a writer at the Institute for Justice

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