There’s a reason many of us long ago took to calling the public education establishment “the blob,” a term suggestive of willful inertia and an ability to engulf and neutralize anything critics hurl against it.
Now comes word that the Department of Public Instruction probably won’t finalize details of Wisconsin’s pitifully small, 500-student school choice expansion until after funding decisions are made for local school districts. What a surprise!
Meanwhile, the Legislature’s status-quo-at-any-cost Liberals continue boring away at the foundations of education reform. Just before the August 1 choice-school enrollment deadline, La Crosse Senator Jennifer Shilling turned up with a list of manufactured bogeymen.
“Despite numerous concerns that have been raised about the lack of accountability and oversight at these [choice] schools,” Shilling wrote in a taxpayer-funded press release, “the Republican-controlled Legislature has refused to take steps to protect children in this program and ensure that these private schools are held to the same high standards as our public schools.”
Would it be bad manners to ask if Shilling means the same high standards that resulted in our seeing police officers stationed full-time in some of Milwaukee’s public schools as long as 40 years ago?
She indicated she would introduce legislation to “strengthen oversight, prevent fraud, improve academic standards, and protect children attending private voucher schools,” so here’s a hot tip for Senator Shilling: The legislation you’re talking about, to improve academic standards and strengthen oversight, has already been passed and signed into law.
It’s the choice expansion you voted against two months ago in the state budget bill.
The strengthened oversight is parental and its chief aim is a (regrettably modest) push-back against the greatest educational fraud of all: The bureaucracy-ridden system that disproportionately shortchanges minority students, helping perpetuate cycles of poverty and dependence.