Thanks to a wonderful person in Madison, I am able to post the governor’s proposal for the School Voucher program in Milwaukee. As far as I know, I’m the first person to be able to post this on their blog. This was circulated to the Legislative Body on January 13, 2006.

I’m not going to make a comment on this, except to say, read the whole thing through. Don’t listen to the phony ads Charlie Skyes is promoting on the radio. Read this proposal for yourself and make up your own mind.

From: Rep.Sinicki
Sent:
Friday, January 13, 2006 4:48 PM
To:
*Legislative Assembly Democrats; *Legislative Assembly Republicans; *Legislative Senate Democrats; *Legislative Senate Republicans

Subject: Co-sponsorship of the Milwaukee Education Package
Importance:
High

Date: January 13, 2006

To: Members of the Wisconsin Legislature

From: Milwaukee Caucus Members:
Senators Tim Carpenter, Spencer Coggs and Lena Taylor, and
Representatives Pedro Colon, David Cullen, Christine Sinicki and Polly Williams

Re: Milwaukee Education Package
*****************************************************
Dear colleagues,

Earlier this session we began work with the Governor and others to develop a Milwaukee education package which improves educational outcomes for students in Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) and independent charter schools. In November, the Governor announced a Milwaukee Education Package, the details of which you will find below as LRB-4154. As Chair of the Milwaukee Caucus, I respectfully request your support for this legislation and ask that you join me and other members of the Milwaukee Caucus in co-sponsoring it.

Thank you,

Rep. Christine Sinicki, Chair
Milwaukee Caucus

Choice:

— The MPCP participation cap will increase to 18 percent, upon enactment of legislation.

— The income eligibility cap for currently enrolled MPCP pupils and their siblings will increase from 175 percent to 220 percent of the federal poverty level, enabling pupils to remain in the program as family income grows. To participate in the program, new pupils must come from families whose income is at or below 175 percent of poverty.

— All prior-year participation requirements will be eliminated so that children can enroll in the choice program regardless of where they attended school the year before. However, participation in the program will remain limited to pupils who reside in the City of Milwaukee.

Choice Accountability:

— Parents looking to make the appropriate choice for their child need more and comparative information about the quality of education their child is or will be receiving in a MPCP school. Likewise, Wisconsin taxpayers need better information about the educational product they fund at a cost of nearly $93 million in the current school year.

— MPCP schools must administer the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE) Criterion-Referenced Tests in grades 3-8 and grade 10. DPI must report the results for MPCP schools so parents and taxpayers can compare the academic performance of choice schools with public schools. In addition, the scores of MPCP pupils will determine whether schools meet adequate yearly progress objectives or are labeled “in need of improvement” under the provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act—just like under-performing public and independent charter schools.

— To ensure minimum academic standards, beginning in the 2007-08 academic year, MPCP schools must be accredited by
one of the following independent accrediting authorities: Independent Schools Association of the Central States, Wisconsin
North Central Association, Wisconsin Religious and Independent Schools Accreditation, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, or
any other organization recognized by the National Council for Private School Accreditation. Approval for scholarship funding by Partners Advancing Values in Education (PAVE) will also constitute meeting this requirement. Newly established schools must, at a minimum, become a candidate for accreditation before one of the above organizations during their initial year of MPCP participation, and become accredited prior to their third year of participation in the program.

Improving Charter Schools:

The Racine Charter School program may increase its enrollment cap from 400 to 480 to allow the students attending the 21st Century Preparatory School to attend the school through 8th grade.

MPS ‘Hold Harmless’ Provision:

— Currently, MPCP students are not counted for the purpose of calculating state general school aid payments to Milwaukee, but Milwaukee taxpayers are required to pay 45% of the cost of the choice program. Without a change in the formula, increasing the choice cap will take additional state aid away from MPS and raise property taxes in Milwaukee.

— MPS may count each choice student as 0.45 FTE in determining Milwaukee’s per-pupil property value for state aid. This

provision will be phased in over five years (0.1 FTE in 2006-07 … 0.4 FTE in 2009-2010, and 0.45 FTE in 2010-11) to provide an equitable division of resources to Milwaukee over time as enrollment in the choice program is allowed to grow.

— The Milwaukee Board of School Directors must direct 100% of these “hold harmless” funds to instructional services for students. Such funds must be used for core instruction—not for any administrative or non-instructional purpose—including

funding teaching and instructional support staff, remedial instruction and after-school instruction provided by MPS and to
address deficiencies in meeting the state’s Twenty School District Standards (Wisconsin State Statutes Chapter 121.02).

Smaller Class Sizes:

— The Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE)—the state’s class-size reduction program in kindergarten through 3rd grade—raises achievement, particularly for low-income students. Despite that fact, per-pupil state funding has not increased since the program was first implemented in 1996.

— Beginning in the 2007-08 school year, the per-pupil SAGE reimbursement will increase from $2,000 to $2,500.

**********************************************************************************************

If you need additional information on LRB 4154, please view the attached copy or contact the co-sponsors with questions. To become a co-sponsor, contact Rep. Sinicki’s office by 5 p.m., Friday, January 20, 2006.

Thank you for your consideration.