Last week, a Jefferson County Circuit Judge
“); background-size: 1px 1px; background-position: 0px calc(1em + 1px); background-repeat: repeat no-repeat”>ruled that the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) violated the law when it came to releasing data on the state’s private school choice programs. Along with Jim Bender of School Choice Wisconsin and Matt Kittle of Empower Wisconsin, I served as a plaintiff in this case brought by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL). While issues with data may tend to make people’s eyes glaze over, this case actually represents an important opportunity to highlight the successes of Wisconsin’s school choice programs, and how DPI has routinely tried to hide them.
The Court ruled in WILL’s favor on two counts. First, the Court ruled that the Department cannot hold a private press briefing before releasing all school choice data to the public. State law requires a public release of the data, and instead DPI regularly has held a private briefing in the days leading up to the release. This provides DPI with an opportunity to shape the narrative that will be reported when the data becomes public. Those of us who are regular critics of the public school system are denied access to the calls, meaning that our opportunity to respond to what is released is limited. In today’s 24-hour news cycle, immediate response is critical if one wants their perspective to be a part of the narrative on the data. Mandating a full, public release will give those on all sides of education issues in the state a fair shot to let their voice be heard.