The following is the Stop Special Needs Vouchers press release for our April 18 Fox Valley listening session.
For Immediate Release:
April 22, 2013
Parents Against Special Needs Vouchers Applaud Bi-Partisan Pledge to “Lead the Fight”
Neenah, WI– Parents of students with disabilities praised comments from State Senator Michael Ellis (R -Neenah) and Representative Penny Bernard Schaber (D-Appleton), promising to fight to remove the deeply-flawed special needs voucher proposal from the Wisconsin state budget. Citing significant opposition by his fellow Republicans, Sen. Ellis predicted the legislature would be in for a long budget battle if they did not remove the controversial proposal from the budget. Sen. Ellis and Rep. Bernard Schaber spoke on Thursday night at a community conversation in Neenah, hosted by Stop Special Needs Vouchers, where both legislators and parent speakers expressed their opposition to the voucher proposal.
Senator Ellis assured the gathering that he and other Senators in his caucus would do all they can to take the special needs vouchers out of the budget in the Joint Finance Committee. He also pledged, invoking his position as Senate president, “I will help lead the fight to remove it.” Senator Ellis cited grave concerns about how funding for voucher would negatively affect public schools and ultimately taxpayers. Representative Bernard Schaber said she would not vote for a budget that included special needs vouchers.
Mary Swifka, whose freshman son Noah is thriving with the support he receives in the New London school district, praised the legislators’ statements. “We appreciate Senator Ellis and Representative Bernard Schaber coming together across partisan lines to speak out against the special needs vouchers. Disability advocacy organizations all across Wisconsin agree – the vouchers are a bad choice for our students and our state, and must be removed from the state budget.” Swifka was among those who spoke at the event in Neenah.
Katie Schierl, whose son Jim has cerebral palsy and completed his public education in the Neenah school district last June, also spoke against the vouchers on Thursday. Schierl explained, “Students who take the special needs vouchers would lose their rights to transition services and all the other legal protections of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Our tax money should not be going to private schools that aren’t required to follow the IDEA, including the transition programs that were so vital for helping Jim prepare for life after high school.”
The families of Stop Special Needs Vouchers statewide continue to advocate that the special needs voucher proposal be removed from Wisconsin’s budget, so that the legislation can have a separate public hearing in an education committee where its shortcomings can be fully exposed.
Video of the April 18 Community Conversation in Neenah is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NONFRL056U8