Wisconsin Voucher debate reveals deep divisions about public schools

Susan Troller:

As of early afternoon Wednesday the fate of voucher schools in Green Bay is uncertain. Rumors are flying that the proposal to use tax dollars to pay families to send their children to private and religious schools in that city will be pulled from the state budget.
It’s been a hot topic.
The voucher story I posted on Chalkboard last week detailed Green Bay Supt. Greg Maass’ unhappy reaction to both the proposal and the abrupt legislative process that put it in the budget. It definitely struck a nerve, and drew many comments.
Some of the most interesting reactions went well beyond the issue of vouchers and whether public money should be used to fund private schools. They expressed the heart of the debate surrounding public schools, or “government” schools as some folks call them.
Are public schools failing? Who’s to blame? What responsibilities does a civil society owe to children who are not our own? What kind of reforms do parents, and taxpayers, want to see?
Here are some excerpts that are revealing of the divide in the debate:

VHOU812 wrote: …As a consumer of the public (or private) educational institutions, I am demanding more value. If it is not provided, I will push to refuse to purchase and home school. This is not what I want. I want security knowing that I am satisfied with the investment in my children’s education. I don’t get that feeling right now from publc schools, and that is the core of the problem that public schools need to fix. I also see that private institutions, by their nature, can make changes to respond to consumer demands very quickly, and it is clear public schools either can’t, or won’t.

I’m glad Susan posted these comments. Looking at the significant growth in Wisconsin K-12 spending over the past few decades along with declining performance, particularly in reading compels us all: parents, taxpayers, students, teachers, administrators and the ed school community, to think different.
Wolfram’s words are well worth considering: “You have to ask, what’s the point of universities today?” he wonders. “Technology has usurped many of their previous roles, such as access to knowledge, and the social aspects.