So now, Walker wants to go back to letting parental choice drive quality?
There are those who agree. George Mitchell, a central and adamant figure in the history of voucher advocacy, sent me an email last week, saying, among other things:
“If there was a true open enrollment system in Wisconsin that included private and charter schools, a system that ALL parents were eligible for, a system that did not give ‘public’ schools a decided fiscal advantage, there would be an accountability revolution.
“This would require that the state provide parents with Consumer Reports-style information. The result, among other things, would be a meaningful reduction in the number of low-performing schools.”
Mitchell added, “…given the demonstrable inability of officials and experts in Madison to craft an alternative, what could go wrong in giving true parent-based accountability a try?
“Such a system would not be perfect. I only argue that it would be (far) better compared to the current system.”
There was little evidence that Republican legislative leaders were buying Walker’s idea that there was no need for bureaucrats to create steps for dealing with low success schools.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos was quoted saying that passing a bill that didn’t include state-initiated ways aimed at change “would just be political theater.” Rep. Jim Steineke, majority leader of the Assembly, posted an essay online, saying, “It is unconscionable that we would look at the children left at these schools and tell them that by slapping a grade on their schools, we have somehow accomplished something.”
On the one hand, you have to ask if Walker is serious about what he said — or is he, perhaps, striking a posture that might help position him in the race for the Republican presidential nomination? If he’s serious, will he really push for no new government-based accountability steps, except something like better report cards?