Assembly Majority Leader Robin VosRep.Vos@legis.wisconsin.gov
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald Sen.Fitzgerald@legis.wisconsin.gov
Members of Wisconsin's Joint Finance Committee
Alberta Darling: email@example.com
Luther Olsen: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sheila Harsdorf: email@example.com
Joe Leibham: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Lazich: email@example.com
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Jennifer Shilling: email@example.com
Robert Wirch: firstname.lastname@example.org
John Nygren: email@example.com
Pat Strachota: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dale Kooyenga: email@example.com
Dean Knusdon: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Cory Mason: email@example.com
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cc: Gov. Walker, email@example.com
Rep. Gary Hebl, Sen. Mark Miller (my own representatives)
Wisconsin public school parent and citizen representative to the Sun Prairie School BoardHeather DuBois BourenaneSincerely,Dear Wisconsin legislators,I call on you to take seriously your charge to represent ALL citizens of Wisconsin when finalizing the state budget, and especially seriously the consensus among education experts that voucher expansion is wrong for Wisconsin students. The lack of accountability and discouraging track record of current voucher schools has proven that these schools are not demonstrably more successful than regular public schools. And the push for "special needs vouchers" in particular seems politically motivated and ill-advised, as is evidenced by the lack of support for this proposal from every single group in the state advocating for special needs students.
Our public schools were hit hard by the record-breaking cuts to public education funding in the last budget. It is incumbent upon you now to restore this funding to levels that give every child a chance to succeed and every school a chance to shine. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers made some very reasonable and fair suggestions in his recommendations for a Fair Funding for Our Schools plan. I recommend that you revisit these suggestions and put your stewardship of our schools in the hands of those who best understand what our schools and students need. The out-of-state money, support, and political motives surrounding the push toward increased voucher funding shows that Wisconsin students are no longer the central focus of this issue; it is YOUR job to bring them back to the center of this stage.
Using public funds to finance private schools and rewarding only the "highest performing" schools is akin to giving a cash reward to those who have already won the lottery. It is the poorest, and struggling, schools that most need our help. Let's get these priorities straight and focus on the Constitutional demand that we provide a free and equal education to every child in the state. Voucher expansion, coupled with decreased funding to regular public schools, does the opposite and violates this most basic of public trusts:
Wisconsin Constitution, Article X, SECTION 3:"Release" of these students for religious instruction should not be read as "release" of public funds to sectarian hands. The proud tradition of excellence in Wisconsin schools requires the totality of support our Constitution demands.
The legislature shall provide by law for the establishment of district schools, which shall be as nearly uniform as practicable; and such schools shall be free and without charge for tuition to all children between the ages of 4 and 20 years; and no sectarian instruction shall be allowed therein; but the legislature by law may, for the purpose of religious instruction outside the district schools, authorize the release of students during regular school hours.I submit these concerns to the public record for consideration as this issue is heard by the Joint Finance Committee on May 29, 2013.
Here are those emails again for easy copy/pasting: