Connect with us

As I See It

Voucher school expansion hurting public schools



Wisconsin’s public schools are at a crossroads. Enrollment in many districts, like La Crosse, is declining. That means fewer dollars flowing from Madison and leads many districts to hold referendums asking voters to approve spending additional money to educate their children. Part of the problem is the proliferation of private voucher schools. These schools siphon money from public education to pay for their own curriculum, which does not have the same standards as public schools.  Private schools say they can provide a better education than public schools, but there is zero evidence that is true. In fact, the group School Choice Wisconsin provides no documentation of their students’ test scores, or the taxpayer’s cost of educating them. But these private schools are not the great equalizer. Many refuse to accept students who are more expensive to teach, such as the disabled or those with learning disabilities. They can hand select their student body. Wisconsin’s school voucher program, the first in the nation, had just 350 students when it launched in 1990. Today, there are 52,000 voucher students in Wisconsin being educated at taxpayer expense, and nearly all were already enrolled in private schools before taxpayers started footing their tuition costs. That number is expected to grow in coming years when the cap on voucher school enrollment goes away. This is a waste of our tax dollars, and harmful to efforts to provide a quality, public education.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

Continue Reading


  1. Richard Lepsch

    September 6, 2023 at 5:44 am

    Obviously parents see a failing public education system. Due to democrat failed policies. So if you support the dumbing down of you children,then continue to send your kids to democrat indoctrination schools.

  2. Greg

    September 6, 2023 at 7:44 am

    How short sighted Scott Robert Shaw. The tax money that goes to Voucher Schools is doing exactly what it is intended to do, provide education to children. What it doesn’t do is hold children hostage in a system of indoctrination that many parents find offensive. If public schools would stick to teaching, reading, writing, science, math and computers, more parents would keep their kids enrolled. The money should follow the kids, not the other way around.

  3. Tom

    September 6, 2023 at 9:29 am

    Voucher school expansion hurting public schools.

    Who’s your Editor? That is a negative Headline (and subsequent article) that could easily have read: Voucher school expansion helping private schools (and subsequent positive article)

    You complain about taxpayer money going to private education of our children. Well, I complain about taxpayer money going to failing public schools.

    Back when I went to public Junior High school 50+ years ago, my classmates and I learned of Supply & Demand. Look it up. It rules the day.

  4. Carl Meyer

    September 6, 2023 at 9:39 am

    Look at the results from St. Augustin Prep on the south side of MKE. The State rates them very high and well above the failing MPS.

  5. Martha Linville

    September 6, 2023 at 10:11 am

    I agree with Mr. Shaw. My tax dollars should pay for education available to all children, not to help private schools. Stop stealing my tax dollars.

    • Hartness

      September 6, 2023 at 2:16 pm

      You say “all children”? Then how do you justify paying 2-times per public school student vs a voucher supported student. Maybe you should get involved and find out where your local public schools are actually spending YOUR tax dollars. You just might be shocked.

    • Fritz Dahmus

      September 8, 2023 at 2:46 pm

      Your tax dollars do stay with you…..unless you take those dollars and your child to another school [private or public]. That’s how most voucher programs work.

      I would think 15-20 thousand per kid…just to see half fail at math and reading levels……is already stealing your tax dollars. Why don’t you ask if there are other ways to make public schools better……other than throwing more money at them and making young students attend them…….so they won’t get hurt? They are already hurting….they are failing……

  6. Jeffery Pralle

    September 6, 2023 at 10:27 am

    We are not sealing tax dollars, those dollars belong to each child and should go to where the child decides to go. And even if the child goes to a private school that school district still gets a portion of the money regardless, the same dollars do not go to the private school. The school district does not have the expense of that child but still gets some dollars, why is that? Nation wide children are leaving the public education system as they continue to fail our children and or indoctrinate them in things that have noting to do with education.
    The best thing to happen to minority stun dents across the state, especially in the Milwaukee area is school choice and trhe voucher program. Until our public schools wake up this trend will continue.

  7. Carol Herlitzka

    September 6, 2023 at 10:32 am

    What do you expect.? What do we pay these teachers for? Reading , writing, math, history,
    Not to hate your parents and your Country! These unions are the same way. Now we have people from
    Guatamala working in la Crosse. Are these also union workers.? Where are the American workers!!?

  8. Mike Sladky

    September 6, 2023 at 12:01 pm

    It’s called free market competition!

  9. Char

    September 6, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    If the number of children is declining, then the amount of money should also decline. Expenses, i.e. teachers, administration, etc., also needs to be cut back. Education should be run like any other business.

    As far as the money going to private, charter schools, they have proven results with more students excelling there than the public schools.

  10. Advanced Placement

    September 6, 2023 at 2:09 pm

    One couldn’t find an article more disconnected from reality unless it was written by the LX School Superintendent himself.

    As an example, the La Crosse District spends almost $20,000 per student per year. When a voucher eligible student leaves, they take somewhere around half that amount with them. The private school is not allowed to charge the student more than the voucher amount. The private schools are getting better results with fewer dollars; that benefits everyone.

    Moreover, the amount that follows the student to the private school is not lost to the public schools, it’s made up for in local tax revenue, and then the District will be collecting an additional $60 million (unrelated to vouchers) due to the recent referendum. In summary, this entire school vouchers argument is nonsense. I also think it is a distraction from the abysmal track record of local schools. For example many Wisconsin schools were recently recognized for their participation in advanced placement coursework, including Onalaska and Holmen…but not La Crosse.

    By the way, the largest number of voucher supported students are escaping from horrific public schools in Racine and Milwaukee. That is not a problem; it is a solution. I believe the current statewide enrollment period for vouchers ends on September 14.

  11. Kent Porter

    September 6, 2023 at 2:39 pm


  12. Wayne

    September 6, 2023 at 4:06 pm

    Vouchers schools teach their own form of indoctrination. Public money should go to public schools. If voucher schools cant be fully transparent and provide equal treatment to all then they should be private pay only.

    • Chapter and Verse

      September 7, 2023 at 11:43 pm

      Wayne, Actually private schools are more transparent than public schools. Unsaid is that public schools (including la crosse) have made standardized tests optional so there is no uniform way to empirically compare results across the entire student body…that is not by accident.

      Failing public schools are failing their students.

    • Driver

      September 10, 2023 at 12:50 pm

      Public schools transparent? You have obviously never attended a La Crosse School Board meeting where obfuscation of information and lack of accountability are the intended results. You have no idea where your taxes are going.

  13. Update

    September 21, 2023 at 1:31 pm

    5 of 11 WI senate Democrats crossed over to support the increase in voucher funding in the latest state budget.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *