WASHINGTON, D.C. – Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker today signed into law the largest expansion to the state’s school choice programs in history. The expansion will benefit thousands of children from the state’s low- and middle-income families and sends a strong signal to the nation that educational equality is possible with strong leadership from state legislators and executives.
The American Federation for Children, which—along with School Choice Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Council of Religious & Independent Schools, Hispanics for School Choice, and Democrats for Education Reform—has invested significantly in outreach and advocacy efforts designed to expand school choice in the Badger State, praised the passage of the landmark school choice program expansions.
In approving the state budget, Walker enacted a significant expansion of the popular Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. The state’s 2011-2013 biennial budget contains language that increases income eligibility for the program and removes the cap on the number of participants. The budget also allows children in Milwaukee to attend the private schools of their parents’ choice—anywhere in Wisconsin.
In addition, the budget creates a new choice program—similar to the one in Milwaukee—for Racine. AFC polling indicates strong, bipartisan support for the creation of this new program. Governor Walker first publicly announced his intention to pursue the expansion to Racine during an address to the American Federation for Children’s National Policy Summit in May 2011.
“Today is a monumental day for children in Milwaukee, Racine, and the State of Wisconsin,” said AFC Chairman Betsy DeVos. “Governor Walker and state legislators pledged to put Wisconsin’s children first, and today that important pledge has become law. We encourage governors and state legislators across the nation to be equally bold in fighting for the creation and expansion of school choice programs.”
In addition to praising Governor Scott Walker’s leadership, AFC today hailed the courage of Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), Representative Robin Vos (R-Burlington), Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon). AFC also praised Representative Jason Fields (D-Milwaukee) for introducing the successful “Once In, Always In” provision that will protect students enrolled in both the Milwaukee and Racine Parental Choice Programs.
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