Monday, January 16, 2006

Sorting out the school choice mess

Let's start with the disclosure that I support school choice as one of many ways to try to improve education in Milwaukee. I don't think choice is the be-all, end-all. But I do think the competition can help make our public schools better, and that is still where the lion's share of our kids will be educated -- in the public schools.

Milwaukee has a unique problem, with fewer than half of the incoming high school freshmen graduating four years later. I subscribe to the idea that we need to try every available option to giving our kids a better chance to succeed. Why not try everything and see what works?

That does not excuse or justify the current campaign to remove limits from the number of students who can participate in choice. Republicans in the legislature, working with their school choice allies, are willing to make Milwaukee school children pawns in their game to hurt Gov. Jim Doyle politically.

I could do on and on about this, but Jay Bullock (an MPS teacher) already has, so I will quote him briefly and refer you to his blog, which has covered the issue in depth:

Years ago, Jim Doyle started offering to work with legislative Republicans on a solution to the cap problem, one that would prevent the kind of mess that we see coming this fall. Yet time after time, the Republicans have asked for one thing only: A complete removal of the cap. They have shown no willingness to compromise, no willingness to consider the 96,000 other children in Milwaukee and how to improve the education for them. Because, let's face it, even if the cap disappeared tomorrow, there would not be a voucher spot for 96,000 more students. We have to do something for them. But, no.


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