Miscellaneous musings from the perspective of a lefty (both senses) atheist with a warped sense of humor.

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Location: Madison, WI, United States

I am a geek, but I do have some redeeming social skills. I love other people's dogs, cats, and kids. Snow sucks, but I'm willing to put up with it just to live in Madison.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Milwaukee School Choice Program

Gov. Scott Walker wants to eliminate the enrollment cap on the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, wherein a presently limited number of kids get to attend parochial and proprietary schools at public expense. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is wary of the consequences. He wants to "count all the kids" (public-school and "choice" enrollees both) in the state-aid formula as it applies to Milwaukee Public Schools.

Both of them are way off base. In particular, Barrett's proposal is like instituting a draft lottery in an effort to spread involuntary military service around more equitably. Fiddling with the details of a concept that's inherently bad to begin with doesn't make it any less invidious.

Public money has no business being used to support religious education, period. Moreover, in practice, the Choice program has been plagued by lack of accountability (no state testing requirements), fraud (private operators taking off with the state-aid check, leaving the kids without a school to go to, and MPS to try to deal with it), refusal to accept handicapped children, continued leeching off public schools for lab courses, and — most significantly — absolutely no educational advantage whatsoever for the "choice" students compared to their public-school counterparts, which was the ostensible justification for this whole fiasco in the 1st place.

Poor people in Milwaukee have been duped by the right wing into thinking that privatization of education is a solution to their educational problems, but the evidence shows that it's not. The Choice program is only a stalking horse for the neocon wet dream of dismantling the whole concept of common schools, along with government services in general.

The only real solution to the problem is to utterly eliminate the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program and return to public control of public money spent in public schools with public accountability.

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The 5 greatest bargains in America:
  (1) sunshine
  (2) fresh air
  (3) clean water
  (4) public libraries
  (5) public schools


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