Last week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that taxpayer money can be used to send Milwaukee students to private schools. Milwaukee will now operate under a system where up to 15,000 students will be eligible for vouchers to attend private schools. This means that nearly $70 million will be siphoned away from Milwaukee’s already ailing public school system and put into private institutions.
Proponents of so-called school choice say the decision will completely transform education, letting parents choose where to send their children. They say it’s a revitalization of parochial schools. Opponents say it’s yet another attack on Milwaukee’s public school system and a breakdown of democratic principles. What’s more, on the issue of school choice, Wisconsin has been a pioneer. Wisconsin was the first state to adopt a voucher plan that included religious schools. Wisconsin is considered the leading state in so-called welfare reform. Gov. Thompson has been praised by Republicans and Democrats alike for his pledges to “end welfare as we know it.”
- Phil Wilayto, the Coordinator of the Job is a Right Campaign based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The organization works on a wide range of issues affecting poor and working people. He is also the author of “The Feeding Trough: The Bradley Foundation, The Bell Curve and the Real Story Behind W-2, Wisconsin’s National Model for Welfare Reform,” an investigative report about who is behind welfare reform and school choice in Wisconsin and why.