Nic Kelly, Heather DuBois Bourenane on how school is funded

School Choice Wisconsin Director Nic Kelly and Wisconsin Public Education Network Executive Director Heather DuBois Bourenane consider whether and how the state should fund public and private schools.

By Steven Potter | Here & Now

June 13, 2023

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Steven Potter:
Is there room for both a healthy public education school system and a robust voucher school choice system?

Nic Kelly:
Absolutely. It is room for public, charter, and choice. Without a doubt. There's great public schools that exist. It goes back to the whole concept of a child is a child. Kids need to be able to find a place in which they're going to find an environment in which is conducive for them to be educated and feel comfortable. The child doesn't feel comfortable, it's gonna affect their education, and we don't want that as adverse effects. We also wanna make sure that a family is putting their child in a place that they feel most comfortable. That's also gonna help with the education process. There's room for everybody in this environment and we just need to always keep focus on that. This is about kids and this is about families and giving them the choices.

Steven Potter:
Is there space and funding for both a healthy public education system and a robust voucher system?

Heather DuBois Bourenane:
That question is kind of loaded so I wanna make sure that I'm answering it in an honest way. The problem with school vouchers is that they siphon money away from public schools. And that they put an increasing strain on a system that is already strained to the max for all of the reasons that we've just discussed. Further, what we've seen with the kind of proliferation of expansions of these kind of different mechanisms for putting public funds into private or privately operated schools is that these schools aren't serving public school kids. There's this myth out there that if parents had the choice, they would take their kids out of a so-called failing school and put them into the private school of their choice. That's not what really happens. I mean, we've had this Wisconsin Parental Choice program for almost a decade now, and very close to 80% of the students who are participating in that program never set foot in a public school. These are kids who are either already in the private schools or they started those schools in kindergarten. And so it's not really a question of competing for resources. It's a question of we're now running two totally different systems that play by two totally different sets of rules, and the way that they're funded is grotesquely unfair to the public school kids.

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