More than 43,000 families in Wisconsin’s school choice programs likely will be surprised to learn that they constitute a “threat” to the state.
The editorial board of the Capital Times offered up that opinion in a recent attack on programs that serve these low-income and working-class families. The impetus for the editorial — what can charitably be described as a rant — was a school choice rally in the Capitol attended by more than 800 students and parents. It was also the first time a sitting United States vice president or president had been inside our state’s Capitol building.
In the 767-word editorial, the word “student” appeared but once. “Parent” and “family” were not mentioned at all. Milwaukee school board politics was heavily covered, however.
The editorial lauded Gov. Tony Evers for being “right” in opposing the state’s school choice programs. We can safely assume, therefore, that the editorial board will not object to assessing those programs based on criteria established by the governor during his tenure as Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Wisconsin’s three principal choice programs involve families in Milwaukee, Racine and the rest of state.
Let’s start with the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) where roughly 30,000 of the 43,000 students are enrolled. The DPI/Evers report cards rank schools using five categories, with the highest being “significantly exceeds expectations” or five stars. In the most recent ratings, this highest rank was awarded to 21 Milwaukee schools with a student population of color of at least 80%. Of those 21 schools, 14 are in the MPCP, five are autonomous charter schools and two are in Milwaukee Public Schools.