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The customers in Wisc demanded school vouchers remain?

In most inner cities there are 5-6 applicants for every voucher or Charter school spot. So who should get to choose how their kids are educated? The teacher's unions or the Parents?


In this case, parents of admitted kids who loved their schools stood up to fight for their children's future...something that union reps could care less about (as is the case with their elected representatives running most urban centers). And who's Chicago Mayor, none other than a former Chicago Teacher's Union employee?


How Parents Beat the Left on School Choice in Wisconsin

A lawsuit failed after the public rose to defend vouchers.

By C.J. Szafir, WSJ

Dec. 26, 2023


Despite having a new liberal majority, the Wisconsin Supreme Court refused this month to hear a challenge to the state’s school-choice programs. The lawsuit, supported by the Minocqua Brewing Co.’s progressive super PAC, would have deprived more than 60,000 students of funding. The episode carries a lesson for advocates of education freedom.

The lawsuit challenged Wisconsin’s taxpayer-funded voucher programs. While teachers unions hailed it, Democratic politicians refused to endorse it. Gov. Tony Evers’s administration filed a brief asking the court to reject the case. The Legislature’s Democratic leaders kept silent. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, running for re-election in 2024, appears not to have said a word.


Families and school leaders were more engaged. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty’s brief against the lawsuit represented 22 clients, including parents and private-school leaders. Parents and students spoke out. “The new Supreme Court case will be devastating to all families . . . because it would take away opportunities from children who can’t support their education through a public school system,” Sherlean Roberts, a senior at Marquette University, told us. She attended a charter school in Milwaukee and will be the first in her family with a college degree.


Wisconsin began its experiment with school choice in 1990 with a bipartisan voucher program, enrolling 341 in secular private schools in Milwaukee. The state expanded the program to include religious schools in 1998, private schools outside Milwaukee in 2011 and 2013, and special-needs students in 2016.


Seventeen of the 20 highest-rated schools in Milwaukee are voucher or charter schools, according to the state’s report cards. Forty-five percent of voucher or charter schools statewide receive four- or five-star rankings, including those in hard-to-serve areas like The Lincoln Academy in Beloit. Parents are flocking to schools such as St. Marcus Lutheran, St. Augustine Christian and United Community. Each has more than 1,000 students and waiting lists. Wisconsin has the third-highest percentage of children in private schools in the country.


Voters don’t want to see families deprived of these options. An October poll by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce found that 58% of the state’s voters would be less likely to support a Supreme Court justice who voted to end school choice. No wonder the court’s order this month was unsigned and unanimous. Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, up for re-election in 2025, doesn’t want to incur public blowback.


Brian Potts, the plaintiff’s attorney, conceded in an interview that his lawsuit would “kick out a bunch of low-income kids from schools.” School choice is part of the fabric of Wisconsin’s K-12 education system. Almost every politician has constituents for whom school choice is an animating issue, and almost every voter knows someone with a positive story about a charter or private school.


School-choice advocates raised their voices and prevailed—a reminder that public policy can only be as permanent as its constituency.


Mr. Szafir is CEO of the Institute for Reforming Government in Wauwatosa, Wis.

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