Two quick education-related comments on Tuesday’s election outcomes in Wisconsin:
First, this was a banner outcome in the eyes of voucher and charter school leaders. Governor-elect Scott Walker is a long-time ally of those promoting the 20,000-plus-student private school voucher program in the city of Milwaukee, and he is a booster of charter schools both in Milwaukee and statewide. But just as important as Walker’s win was the thumpingly strong victories for Republicans in both the Assembly and State Senate, which will now come under sizable Republican majorities.
What will result?
Let’s assume it’s good-bye to the 22,500-student cap on the voucher enrollment in Milwaukee. Will Walker and the Legislature expand the voucher program beyond the city, perhaps, for openers, to Racine? Will they open the doors wider for charter schools, for national charter-school operators to come into Wisconsin, and for more public bodies to be given the power to authorize charter schools? (Currently, UW-Milwaukee, Milwaukee City Hall, and UW-Parkside are the only ones authorized to do that, other than school boards.) Perhaps most important, what will the Republicans do about the per-student payments to voucher and charter schools? School leaders now are chafing under the impact of receiving less than $6,500 per student for each voucher student and less than $8,000 for each charter student. Will this be one of the very few spots where the Republicans increase the state’s financial involvement? Pretty good chance the answer is yes to all of the above.
Change is certainly in the air.