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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

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6 new schools added to Wisconsin voucher program

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Six new religious private schools will be added to Wisconsin’s statewide voucher program starting next year, the state Department of Public Instruction reported Tuesday.

More than 3,400 students have applied to receive a taxpayer-funded voucher to attend private and religious schools in the second year of the statewide program, more than triple the enrollment cap of 1,000, DPI said.

The six new schools added to the program next year will be Appleton, Bonduel, Sheboygan, Menasha-Neenah and Fond du Lac.

Of the eligible student applicants, 75 percent are already paying to attend private school. If they are among those randomly selected to get the voucher, taxpayers will pay for their private school education.

This year, the first for the statewide voucher program, nearly 80 percent of the 500 students admitted did not come from a public school.

The voucher program is touted by its supporters as a way to help students escape poorly performing public schools. Opponents, primarily Democrats and public school advocates, say the program is not accountable to taxpayers and is part of a broader agenda to defund public education.

Critics point to the low percentage of applicants coming from public schools as evidence that the program is a public tax-dollar giveaway to private schools to the detriment of public schools.

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Democrat Hulsey not invited to speak at convention

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Democratic state Rep. Brett Hulsey, who is mounting a longshot bid for governor, will not be given a speaking slot at the state party convention next month.

Hulsey, a state representative from Madison since 2011, has upset many with stunts such as promising and then deciding against handing out homemade Ku Klux Klan hoods before the Republican Party convention earlier this month.

Mary Burke, a former state Commerce secretary and Trek Bicycle Corp. executive, has garnered the most Democratic support and money in the contest to take on Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Burke, Hulsey and two other lesser-known Democrats - Marcia Mercedes Perkins and Hari Trivedi - have until June 2 to submit the 2,000 signatures necessary to get on the ballot.

Should more than one Democrat be certified for the ballot, they will square off in a primary on Aug. 12.

Burke is the only candidate who has been invited to speak at the two-day Democratic Party convention which begins June 6 in Wisconsin Dells, party spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said Tuesday.

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