Kathleen Falk today used a closed school as a backdrop for a campaign speech touting her plans to restore school aid cuts if elected governor. The school, Phillis Wheatley Elementary, was recently shut down by the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). Last month a candidate running against Milwaukee representative Jason Fields in the 11th Assembly District Democratic primary, Mandela Barnes, kicked off his campaign in front of MPS’ closed Daniel Webster Middle School. Barnes too spoke of restoring funding to public education, arguing that a closed school reflects poorly on a neighborhood:
“We chose this location because this closed school building represents the loss of hope and opportunity. Who would bring jobs to an area that closes schools?
Falk’s appearance and Barnes’ statement highlight a serious byproduct of Milwaukee’s culture of school choice. Schools close frequently in Milwaukee. They do by design.
The final set of reports from the School Choice Demonstration Project found that during the course of their five-year evaluation 36 private Milwaukee Parental Choice Program schools and 40 MPS schools closed their doors. There is evidence those schools were performing lower than schools that remain open, which on its face is a good thing for students.