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Fields to lead Democratic school reform group, advocate for more voucher, charter funds

By Erin Richards

(From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 6th, 2013)

Former Democratic state representative Jason Fields, who lost his re-election bid for his Milwaukee seat in fall 2012, will now lead the state chapter of Democrats for Education Reform.

According to a news release from the politically aligned advocacy group, Fields will take over as director of DFER Wisconsin from former director Katy Venskus, who is legislative director for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

Fields served in the state Assembly between 2004 and 2012, and was always a bit of an anamoly in the party for supporting Milwaukee's private school voucher program - which allows children in the city to attend more than 100 private, mostly religious schools at taxpayer expense.

The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program has historically received more support from Republicans.

But Fields supported recent changes in state law that allowed more low-income and middle-income children to use a publicly funded voucher to attend voucher schools near Milwaukee and Racine. And he intends to advocate for more money for children in the voucher and charter schools, a controversial issue lately.

According to the release, Fields and DFER Wisconsin intend to encourage the state Legislature to "invest more equitably in all kids" and raise the per-pupil allotments of $6,442 annually for voucher schools and $7,775 annually for public charter schools.

"The organization also hopes to gain greater access to vacant or seriously underutilized Milwaukee Public School facilities," states the release.

Fields' brother Jarett Fields has also joined DFER Wisconsin as community development director.