Wisconsin Act 297 adds Christian Schools International to the list of entities that are accrediting agencies and pre-accrediting agencies for purposes of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, the Racine Parental Choice Program, and the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program and the Special Needs Scholarship program.
Implications for Wisconsin Public Schools: Sixty-five percent more schools signed up to participate in the Wisconsin Parental Choice program (WPCP) in the coming school year. The number of schools increased from 82 in the 2015-16 school year to 135 for the next academic year. (MacIver Institute) The Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that over the next 10 years, $600 million to $800 million in taxpayer funds will be shifted from public schools to private schools through the voucher program (KenoshaNews).
Implications for Wisconsin Students: An investigation into Baraboo’s St. John’s Lutheran School highlights a controversy. St. John initiated rules that required parents to provide a birth certificate to know the child’s born gender and sign a parent handbook agreement listing what a student can be disciplined and expelled for, including homosexuality. The principal of St. John’s asserts, “If we cannot legally refuse students who are struggling with homosexuality or gender identification, we must maintain our right to hold to the truths of God’s Word…In other words, although we do not have the right to refuse admittance to people choosing an outwardly sinful lifestyle, we do maintain the right to discipline and dismiss students for these choices” (Baraboo News Republic).
Connection for English Language Arts/ NCTE:
NCTE’s 2014 On Academic Freedom states, “ Educational institutions may present alternative views and values, but may not impose or require belief or commitment.” In addition, “Educators and educational institutions must refrain from academically unjustified inquiries into beliefs, values, interests, or affiliations of students and faculty.” Schools that expel students for homosexuality or create a culture of fear by asking birth certificate documentation impose and require beliefs. While many private or charter schools will accept and nurture all children, an expansion of funding into schools who would reject or suppress student freedom and identity is disturbing.