For families, options are good

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Existence of educational alternatives can be important for communities.

FORMER WISCONSIN STATE Sen. Tim Cullen had it about right when he observed, referring to the growth of private school vouchers, the net result for Wisconsin would be two school systems (one public, one private) and taxpayers paying for both.

That's good to remember as Gov. Tony Evers and the Republican-controlled legislature square off over Evers' proposal to cap the number of statewide vouchers made available by the state.

Under Republicans' watch the past few years the mission has been clear - grow the number of vouchers across the state.

Just as clear is the new governor's intent - arrest the growth of vouchers across the state.

THE PROPER NUMBER of statewide vouchers is a valid point for debate in Madison. So is the overall cost to taxpayers in supporting both public and private education.

As a general matter, though, we believe the presence of voucher opportunities has been good for Wisconsin families.

From a Beloit perspective - and Beloit, in this matter, is no different from other urban centers across the state - here's why we believe that.

Urban public school districts - especially those with high levels of poverty - face a mountain of difficult problems. These are measurable, in terms of academic performance, discipline statistics and more. All that is public information, readily available to anyone who asks.

The stakes are high for communities, because a major factor in whether a family chooses a given city to call home can be the perception of where their kids will go to school. Choices matter.

THIS IS NOT to trash the School District of Beloit, or any other urban Wisconsin district. The Beloit district is quite capable of offering families a great educational experience. But what matters is whether mom and dad want to put their kids there.

The expanded voucher system provides options for families that may not be comfortable with the public schools, for whatever reason. Having options, then, is a good thing for a community hoping to grow.

We're not sure unlimited vouchers all across the state is a good idea. Debate on that topic is due.

But we are sure voucher opportunities are good, and deserving of continued support.

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