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Evers calls for more public education money

Published On: Mar 21 2013 10:25:30 AM CDT   Updated On: Mar 21 2013 10:03:19 PM CDT

State Superintendent Tony Evers said Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal pits public schools against choice schools and creates winners and losers.

Evers urged members of the Legislature's budget committee on Thursday to divert money earmarked for roads and an income tax cut and instead spend it on public education.

Walker's budget would freeze public school spending while it gives voucher and charter schools an increase of $96 million. It also expands the voucher program outside of Milwaukee and Racine.

Evers also opposes Walker's plan to create vouchers for special needs students. He called that a "dangerous experiment" because private schools aren't required to provide the same services as public schools.

Senate Republican leaders have already said Walker's education proposals need to change.

Evers said school report cards, which call out failing districts where the vouchers would be expanded, shouldn't be used for such a high-stakes game.

Evers said it will take years to see if vouchers were effective in Milwaukee and Racine and then expand them to other districts.

"It's as simple as that. It's not like choice in and of itself is great. Let's look at what the results are, and the results simply aren't there," Evers said.

Most Republicans don't want to wait that long.

"We can't wait eight years to have a report card. We can't wait eight years to be competitive with the rest of the country. We can't let so many of our kids stay in failing schools," said Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills.

Public schools across the state have also spoken out against Walker's proposal to freeze spending increases for them while increasing money for voucher and charter schools.

Republican Sens. Luther Olsen and Mike Ellis have concerns about both the public school spending freeze and the voucher plan. That means the governor's proposals will likely face changes in the Senate before the budget is final.

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