Fri 17 Jul 98 22:04
Charles Sumner
How Public Schools were Betrayed in Wisconsin

The Milwaukee "Experiment."

In 1989-1990 a voucher plan was set up for Milwaukee which was "experimental, for a limited number of low-income families with children attending nonsectarian schools." Seven schools were involved with 341 students participating at a cost of $733,000.

In 1993-1994 There were 12 schools, 733 students, at a cost of $2.1 million.

In 1994 the legislature rejected the Governor's attempt to fund religious schools by adding them.

In 1995 the Republicans took control of the legislature and added the religious schools. A lawsuit was instituted by Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the ACLU.

In 1996 the circuit court ruled that was unconstitutional under state and federal law.

In 1997 the appeals court upheld the circuit court. Religious Right groups funded another appeal to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. A judge retired and the replacement was a voucher advocate.

In 1998 that judge's vote enabled the Wisconsin Supreme Court to rule that including religious schools was not unconstitutional. 81 religious schools were standing by to partake of the largess for 15,000 students.

For every $5000 voucher granted, the public school budget is to be cut by the same amount.

The court decision is now headed for the U.S. Supreme Court, again to be funded by Religious Right groups. Their greed has apparently overcome their fear of governmental restrictions on their religious schools.

The decision which Madison and Jefferson fought for in 1786 said that in this new world Americans should not be taxed for the support of any religious institutions. Will Americans stand by idly now and let our nation slip back into the patterns of the old world which resulted in so much sectarian strife?

Your support is needed for those organizations which are on the cutting edge in this battle. The opposition is well-organized and well-funded - and they are "religiously motivated." Will money and blind religious faith subvert an American principle? Time will tell.


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