Public Schools Serve the Whole Society

  • Protestor speaking at a rally

A 21st Century public education system is the foundation of democracy and provides equal opportunity. The doors of public schools are wide open for all students and are essential to the well-being of our communities, state and country.

Do you know the difference between taxpayer subsidized private schools and our community Public Schools?

Responsibilities and Standards

Taxpayer subsidized private schools do not need to hire highly qualified teachers and were not required to take state assessments until last year.School Test Sheet Public schools are rated by the state every year, but taxpayer subsidized private schools have a free ride from state report cards until 2017-18 or possibly later.

When tax payer subsidized private schools close, taxpayers can’t recoup losses when displaced children return to public schools. When Life Skills Academy, in Milwaukee closed in the middle of the night, $2.3 million tax dollars went down the drain.


Wisconsin public schools were subjected to the largest cuts in the nation, totaling $1.6 billion and there’s another $127 million cut on the table in the new budget proposal. As a result of continuing cuts, in resources, there are fewer teachers and less one-on-one time for students. At the same time, tax payer subsidized private schools have skimmed $18.4 million dollars from public schools in 2013-2014 with a projection of $54.7 million going to them this year. Tax payer funded private schools get their funding off the top, the left over is divided between all the public schools in the state.

You may have noticed the significant increase in local referendums as state funding cuts to local schools, take their toll on students and communities especially rural areas. More communities than ever before are voting to raise their own local property taxes so children can still get a good education. It doesn’t have to be that way. Over 80 percent of private school subsidy goes to students who never attended public schools in the first place – taxpayers are subsidizing private education at the expense of most of the children in our own neighborhoods.

Special education

Tax payer subsidized private schools are only required to offer services to assist students with special needs that can be provided for with minor adjustments. Public schools employ licensed teachers, provide the full scope of special education and comply with federal law. As a result, subsidized private schools enroll far fewer children who require extra attention to succeed.

AppleStudent Achievement

Studies have found public schools to be equal or better performing than private institutions. This is very true here in Wisconsin, where public school students are outperforming their peers in subsidized private schools. Tax payer subsidized private schools aren’t the answer to improving education. They ignore the real factors impacting student success – family income, involvement, and attendance.

Public Oversight
Tax payer subsidized private schools do not have democratically elected boards that represent the public – even though you, the taxpayer, are footing the bill. Private schools are not required to meet basic public standards, such as open meetings and records laws, or to publicly release test scores, dropout rates and other information.

Responsibility to Students

Many of the tax payer subsidized private schools springing up are private schools geared for profit and looking to advertise their way into getting tax dollars. Just look at the recent request by the subsidy lobby group to get the names, addresses and phone numbers of children in public schools. Subsidized Private schools can spend your tax dollars any way they want, because there’s little oversight.

The Bottom Line

Public schools preserve our democracy and provide a fundamental public purpose for all. They are the heart beat of thriving communities, the foundation of our quality of life. We need to support our neighborhood public schools so every child has a good public school to attend no matter where they live or what their family circumstances are.