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Madison political, school leaders vow to fight private school voucher expansion


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Madison political and school leaders say they will fight efforts to create a private school voucher program in their city.

Governor Scott Walker announced Monday morning that his proposed state budget would expand the long-running voucher program beyond Milwaukee County and Racine.

It would include school districts with at least 4,000 students, and at least two buildings getting the two lowest-grades in the state’s report cards given out to schools last year.

Madison, the state’s second-largest city, had 9 schools with grades of “D,” and none flunked.

Madison School Board member Ed Hughes said most people reject the notion that Wisconsin’s capital has failing schools.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin and Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said the voucher plan does not get at the root cause of the problems in Madison schools – which they said is poverty. Soglin said the Republican governor never talked to him about letting low-income kids leave the public schools to get tax money to attend private schools.

The mayor said that if somebody wants to improve education, they should ask the people for their advice.

Two key Republicans in the Legislature have said they won’t vote to expand school vouchers unless the affected communities approve it in referendums.

Madison is one of nine districts that could possibly get voucher programs. The others are West Allis-West Milwaukee, Green Bay, Fond du Lac, Beloit, Kenosha, Superior, Waukesha, and Sheboygan.