Wisconsin Seeks Reform Of School Voucher Law

In early November, Wisconsin education officials urged lawmakers to give the state education department more power to ensure that private schools benefiting from a voucher program are doing so responsibly.

State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster asked the legislature to amend the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program and give the Wisconsin Department of Instruction greater oversight over state-subsidized private schools. That authority would include background checks of employees at the private schools, requirements that the schools be financially viable and a provision to allow the department to remove private schools from the program if they fail to comply with the rules.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that proposed changes were spurred by the reopening of Alex's Academics of Excellence, a private school plagued by chronic financial problems and allegations of drug use and chaotic conditions.

Burmaster sent the proposed changes to legislators in early November. The Journal Sentinel also reported that "heat is on politicians in both parties" to support the proposed changes.