Wisconsin is considering new regulations for Milwaukee private schools that take voucher students, including one proposal to require bilingual/bicultural education at voucher schools where at least 10 percent of students aren’t proficient in English. Legislators also plan a 2.5 percent cut in voucher funding; at a maximum of $6,607 per student, it’s much less than per-student funding in district schools.
Combined with the reduced funding, the result is “a fiscal as well as educational crisis on the south side,” said Terry Brown, the president of St. Anthony Catholic School, which, with more than 1,000 students, is the largest kindergarten through eighth-grade program in the city. Almost all the students are from predominantly Spanish-speaking backgrounds, and Brown said the school has been successful with its (English) immersion program.
“There are any number of parents who have specifically come to St. Anthony because we do not force bilingual education on English language learners,” he said.
At Learning the Language, Mary Ann Zehr predicts the bill will flop: Wisconsin doesn’t require public schools to provide bilingual classes so why the mandate for private schools?
Update: Rep. Pedro Colon’s aide now tells Zehr that his intent is to equalize requirements for voucher and public schools by requiring a “bilingual-bicultural education program” that need not include native-language instruction.