A “dagger,” said the well-meaning man, “in the heart of public education.” That man, who superintends Green Bay’s public school system, was reacting to word that Gov. Scott Walker proposed letting parents statewide have the same option poor Milwaukeeans now have – to take their state school aid to a private school, if they choose it.
Parents with options: That was the violence that Greg Maass, that superintendent, was talking about. I don’t mean to single out Maass. He colorfully phrased the apocalyptic view that many others had toward Walker’s idea. A writer for The Progressive, the left-wing Madison magazine that figures we peaked in about 1938, tiresomely said it was “war on education.”
Right: To increase options is to war on education. Actually, though, that is the heart of the complaint of the public school establishment. Giving families more control over where they can get a publicly funded education necessarily means less control for those in charge of what had been the only place you could get one.
But will Walker’s idea kill off public education? Unlikely: Incumbent school systems already live with publicly funded competition.