October 5, 2017

Ellie Bruecker, (920) 277-5019, ebruecker@wisc.edu
Daniel J. Quinn, (517) 203-2940, dquinn@greatlakescenter.org

Wisconsin program illustrates how vouchers can exacerbate funding disparities in public schools

EAST LANSING, Mich. (October 5, 2017) — A new peer-reviewed policy memo produced by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) explores the financial effects of Wisconsin's expanded statewide Parental Choice Program (WPCP). The policy memo finds that the program will likely exacerbate school funding inequities for public schools in Wisconsin.

Ellie Bruecker, a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, authored the memo, Assessing the Fiscal Impact of Wisconsin's Statewide Voucher Program. Bruecker's research interests are focused on K-12 and higher education finance. She primarily studies equity in state school funding structures. The memo was made possible in part by support provided to NEPC by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Bruecker's policy memo describes how the voucher program alters the relative share of public education spending borne by the state and by local districts and estimates the differential impact of the program on Wisconsin school districts. Additionally, the memo addresses four overarching policy considerations about vouchers and makes a series of recommendations based on research to promote high-quality education and funding equity.

Bruecker finds that while effects of the program on public schools are currently small, they are likely to grow over time. She points out that as the program expands, the reduction to local school districts will increase. The statewide program is already distributing tens of millions of dollars for private school tuition.

In her conclusion, she writes: "The available evidence suggests that policymakers across the country should think carefully before emulating Wisconsin's statewide voucher program in their own states."

Find the policy memo on the web:

The memo can also be found on the NEPC website:

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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

Visit the Great Lakes Center website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/