Presented at the Capital in Madison, February 18, 2013
My name is Karl Pierick, and this is my wife Mary. We have 2 children: Brady, 17 and Emma, 14. Emma has a form of Dwarfism, Autism and a seizure disorder.
I am so proud to be a citizen of Wisconsin! For decades we have been the gold standard in public education. People move here for our public schools, and teachers get hired on the spot in other states when they say they have a degree from Wisconsin! This is who we are!
Anything that defines you as a State must be protected. You can’t just rush an idea like special needs vouchers through without a hearing and hope it works out for us. When you do that, you end up like the other states that have tried this.
Like in Florida, where the Miami New Times reported that there is so much fraud and corruption with their special needs vouchers that the state can’t keep up with prosecuting them or even shutting them down, costing the state millions. The article said Florida’s McKay voucher program was “like a perverse science experiment, using disabled school kids as lab rats and funded by nine figures in taxpayer cash.”
Some people say that bad voucher schools can’t really happen, because families won’t keep sending their kids there. But guess what? Parents keep sending students to bad voucher schools in Florida anyway, and those schools keep raking in the tax money.
Before we even think of making a huge change like this, we have to discuss this important issue together so we do the right thing for our state. Like we have done Education right for years! We must continue to be the gold standard for education in this country.
I am a teacher at a very prestigious school here in Madison. We have sent our children to public schools because we believe in them. We work as a team and we make it the best for both of our kids.
Many can’t do that for many reasons, a single parent working 3 jobs or unfamiliar with their disability education rights, whatever the reason may be, they have to trust the school to do what is best for their child.
And when you let a voucher school get away with not following the same rules, like not having a legally enforceable IEP, or using unlicensed teachers, or not having to compare test scores to public schools, then the those families will end up suffering even more than they already do.
We strongly encourage Governor Walker not to jeopardize our great state’s reputation — to take special needs vouchers back out of the budget and instead discuss if this is a good road to take and how can we make public education better for all our kids!