Fortified by last Tuesday’s comprehensive victory, the Republican legislative majorities look poised to serve up a large helping of accountability to Wisconsin’s education system via open competition for student enrollments.
This is no surprise. Limited expansion of school choice was enacted in the 2013 state budget bill, the principal GOP opponent of full-on expansion has since retired, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos was publicly looking forward to doing away with statewide enrollment caps 15 months ago.
Vos reiterated his longstanding intentions in a television appearance Sunday morning, saying he plans to move ahead with eliminating enrollment caps and allowing inclusion in parental choice for any school that’s willing to participate in statewide standardized testing.
We will extend the benefit of the doubt to host Mike Gousha and assume he felt obligated to play devil’s advocate. Gousha asked Vos if there’s any evidence that students in choice programs perform any better than their conventional public school peers.
Well, yes there is, but that’s not the most relevant point.
The most relevant point is that in 21st century America, there’s no good reason to interfere with taxpaying parents sending their children to the school they choose. There are, however, bad reasons for doing so, and despite the exemplary choice program in Milwaukee, the bad reasons have largely prevailed. Until now.
Some schools will perform well; some won’t. To claim the certainty of some failures should foreclose the entire effort is a red herring, a spurious excuse to protect the status quo. In truth, when students become customers rather than entitlements, every school will need to up its game.
Act 10 was the beginning of the end for the corrupt union monopoly in public education. With unlimited choice, Wisconsin will have moved well past the beginning.