WEAC Backs Minocqua Brewing SuperPAC Lawsuit Against Voucher Schools
Educators support accountability for vouchers taking nearly $500M in tax dollars
The Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) is supporting the Minocqua Brewing Company SuperPAC in its effort to challenge Wisconsin’s school voucher systems, joining mounting calls for accountability concerning private schools that siphon taxpayer dollars from local public schools.
“Wisconsin Public School teachers and support professionals welcome all students through our doors, no exceptions,” said teacher Peggy Wirtz-Olsen, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council. “As we brace for third Friday enrollment counts, educators are urging the families in our communities to take note. By supporting this lawsuit, we are standing up for students and the future of public education.”
Third Friday enrollment counts determine how much local and state dollars are shifted to unaccountable private voucher schools. Educators and public schools have noted for years that after the third Friday count, an influx of voucher students return to public schools because private vouchers cannot meet their needs or push them out based on performance or behavior. However, the tax dollars that are paid based on the third Friday count aren’t returned to the public schools.
“Wisconsin is currently supporting four separate private voucher systems, none of which give taxpayers a say in how their money is spent,” Wirtz-Olsen said. “Voucher lobbyists continue to demand more funding, leading to the historic increase for private schools in the 2023-25 state budget. It’s time for this to stop. Wisconsin should invest in public schools that are open to all students.”
Wirtz-Olsen noted that private voucher school students do not outperform public school students academically, and that families are often surprised when they realize voucher schools are not required to follow federal laws for special needs accommodations. In the 2022-23 school year, Wisconsin spent about $443 million on the four voucher programs.
The Minocqua Brewing Company lawsuit under development will raise two significant claims:
• The Wisconsin Constitution’s “public purpose requirement,” stipulates public funds must solely be used for public endeavors. While a 1992 case, Davis v. Grover, dismissed a similar challenge based on the “experimental” nature of the voucher program, its pervasive expansion statewide since then calls for a renewed examination.
• The Wisconsin Constitution’s Uniform Taxation Clause underscores that one school district’s property taxes cannot be rerouted to another. With state officials conceding that the current voucher program functions similarly to a property tax-based funding mechanism, this clause may prove pivotal.
Central to the legal challenge will be a focus on the voucher programs as not only a drain on public schools but as systems that are not held to the same standards. Particularly, taxpayer-funded voucher schools are often not obliged to meet fundamental educational benchmarks and often lack comprehensive provisions for students with disabilities.
“In light of these facts, we firmly believe that Wisconsin’s courts in 2023 must reconsider and ultimately reject the existing voucher programs as incompatible with the Wisconsin Constitution,” said Kirk Bangstad, owner of the Minocqua Brewing Company. “We are embarking on this legal challenge with a clear focus: to ensure every child in Wisconsin receives a quality education. Through this effort, we will shine a light on the discrepancies and inequities of the current system and advocate for a fairer, more inclusive educational future for all.”
For Media Inquiries, Contact:
WEAC Contact: Christina Brey, 608.213.3497
Minocqua Brewing Company SuperPAC contact: Kirk Bangstad, email@example.com
About Wisconsin Education Association Council: The Wisconsin Education Association Council is Wisconsin’s largest union of educators, dedicated to improving public education and the lives of our students. www.weac.org
About Minocqua Brewing Company SuperPAC: The Minocqua Brewing Company has become a strong progressive voice in Northern Wisconsin, drawing thousands of tourists from across the country to our historic taproom in downtown Minocqua. More information is available at: MinocquaBrewingCompany.com