Families in Wisconsin Want School Choice
An opinion piece by Torrey Jaeckle in the Wisconsin State Journal notes that Wisconsin “demand for choice by parents and students is strong” – this year alone over 41,000 students take advantage of public open-enrollment, 37,000 students attend charter schools, 25,000 students participate in the Milwaukee and Racine voucher programs, and an additional 137,000 students attend private schools.
Jaeckle disputes the arguments of opponents of school choice. He writes that those that believe school choice is an attempt to privatize public education are mistaken because “Wisconsin is constitutionally required to provide public schools” and those that are happy with their schools will stay there.
He also argues against the idea that “choice starves public schools of critical funding” because public school expenditures have actually grown over the past couple decades. Per pupil spending in public schools in the state have gone up from $10,912 to $12,653. He adds that the voucher program in Milwaukee alone saved taxpayers in Wisconsin nearly $52 million in 2011 because the voucher amount is significantly less than what Milwaukee public schools spend on each student.
Jaeckle also argues against the “objection to taxpayer money being spent on private educational institutions” because the government frequently spends taxpayer money on “products and services from private companies all the time.” He writes:
“Why is it OK to pay private contractors to build our schools, private publishing companies to provide the books and private transport companies to bus our children, but when the teacher or administrator is not a government employee we cry foul?”
School choice ultimately acknowledges that one-size-fits-all does not work for everyone and it “gives us the best chance of eliminating our achievement gap.” Parents and students want school choice in Wisconsin and Jaeckle writes that we should bring the forces of innovation and progress to our educational system.