Evers-O-Meter

Tighten regulations on state’s school voucher program, or end it entirely

Evers told the School Administrators Alliance in a written response to the group’s questions: “As Governor, I would work with the legislature to phase out vouchers; if Republican control of the Legislature makes that impossible, then I would ensure the state adequately funds public schools and require voucher schools to use licensed teachers, adopt student safeguards like IDEA and non-discrimination protection, and implement needed transparency measures.”

Updates

Republicans stall attempted voucher changes

As the state schools chief, Tony Evers had some changes in mind as he pursued the governor's office in 2018.

The state's voucher schools program — long a point of partisan tension in Wisconsin — grew under Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

On the campaign trail, Evers promised to take things in the other direction in a written statement to the School Administrators Alliance:

"As Governor, I would work with the legislature to phase out vouchers; if Republican control of the Legislature makes that impossible, then I would ensure the state adequately funds public schools and require voucher schools to use licensed teachers, adopt student safeguards like IDEA and non-discrimination protection, and implement needed transparency measures."

So far, his ideas have gone nowhere.

Evers' budget sought to cap enrollment in the school choice program at 2019-20 levels, require all choice school teachers to be licensed, require new choice schools be accredited by their first year and include information about choice school impact on property tax bills. The Republican Legislature blocked all four measures.

The Evers-O-Meter rates outcomes, not intent. But his promise didn't specify a timeframe, so he could still make progress on this later in his term.

For now, we rate this promise Stalled.

Sources:

Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Comparative Summary of Provisions, 2019-21 State Budget (page 412), August 2019

Email exchange and interview with Melissa Baldauff, spokeswoman for Gov. Tony Evers, Oct. 14-15, 2019