PFAW Joins Fight Against Voucher Ballot Inititative in Michigan

PFAW Cites Mounting Problems with Voucher Programs in Milwaukee and Cleveland, Recommends Support of Proven Education Reforms

Lansing — People For the American Way today joined other organizations and community leaders in an effort to stop a statewide ballot initiative that would allow the use of tax-payer money to fund private and religious school tuition. 'All Kids First' will educate the public about real reforms that improve public schools like reducing class size, training teachers, and building new schools and shed light on the major problems with vouchers.

"We've found that Murphy's Law applies to vouchers - what can go wrong is going wrong," said People For the American Way's president Carole Shields. "And what's going wrong proves that vouchers are the wrong choice for Michigan kids."

The announcement of the 'All Kids First' campaign comes just after recent investigations into the two voucher programs fully under way in this country - in Cleveland and Milwaukee - that reveal a lack of accountability to taxpayers and parents, dangerous and unhealthy conditions in some voucher schools and violations of state voucher laws that are meant to protect students' and parents' rights.

Just yesterday, People For the American Way Foundation and the NAACP Milwaukee branch released findings of their investigation into the admissions procedures of a number of Milwaukee private and religious schools that receive publicly funded vouchers. That investigation uncovered serious, persistent violations of students' rights under the Wisconsin voucher law. In July, a Cleveland Plain Dealer investigation reported that one of the private schools receiving publicly funded vouchers had, in addition to numerous life and health threatening safety violations, a convicted murderer on its teaching staff.

"Vouchers are a quick-fix experiment that is eating up millions of education dollars but with very poor results," said Shields. "Michigan parents should give vouchers an F by voting against this ballot initiative."

This fall, People For the American Way Foundation and the NAACP Detroit chapter will kick off a public information and mobilization campaign in Detroit to strengthen education for all children in Michigan public schools. Partners for Public Education was launched by the PFAWF and the NAACP in early 1997 to build support for public education and oppose vouchers and other policies that weaken the public schools. Previous "Partners" events have been held in Milwaukee, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Chicago.

"Supporters of vouchers want us to ignore the facts, but our kids are worth too much to just say let's try this and hope it works," said Shields. "The real solution to improving our schools is to give them the resources they need to meet our expectations, not some gimmick that sets our kids up for failure."

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Partners for Public Education: A partnership between People For the American Way Foundation and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People dedicated to leaving no children behind

Read More About the Milwaukee Voucher Experiment

Read PFAWF and NAACP's second complaint leter to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (Adobe Acrobat PDF format)
Previous Press Releases on the Milwaukee Voucher Experiment:

Voucher Schools Violating Wisconsin Law on Student Admissions -- February 2, 1999
24 Schools Flout Wisconsin Law, Risk Expulsion From Voucher Program, DPI Warns -- March 24, 1999

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