ERIC Number: ED447569
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1999-Sep
Reference Count: N/A
How School Choice Almost Died in Wisconsin. Report.
Wisconsin Policy Research Report, v12 n6 Sep 1999
Aggressive intervention by a school-choice coalition and supportive elected officials turned back threats to the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) posed by burdensome state regulation of private schools. MPCP continues to expand, studies report academic gains, parents are satisfied and involved, and public support has grown. Supporters of school choice must learn to overcome opponents' strategies which use threats of regulation to undermine the program in the face legislative and judicial defeats. Efforts to impose a variety of regulations on participating private schools intensified in the wake of a supportive 1998 Wisconsin Supreme Court. Drawing on the support of the governor and legislators, supporters of school choice compelled the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to compromise, demonstrating that a coordinated response can effectively resist regulation. Opponents are continuing efforts to undermine MPCP in several ways, including: (1) spreading factual misinformation about choice schools regarding racial balance, tuition expenses, and exclusion of poorly performing students; (2) calling on the legislature to impose more regulations on choice schools; (3) appropriating the rhetoric of accountability to regulate MPCP; (4) administrative rule-making by DPI, contravening earlier legislative agreements, under the rationale that private schools must comply with federal regulations; and (5) applying the Wisconsin Pupil Nondiscrimination Act to private choice schools. Wisconsin's experience provides five key lessons for choice proponents: (1) realize that opponents will consistently use threats of regulation; (2) form strong, vigilant, unified choice coalitions to prevent these efforts; (3) beware of accountability proposals; (4) fight misinformation aggressively; and (5) support well-designed choice legislation which prevents challenges. (Contains 62 citations.) (TEJ)
Publication Type: Collected Works - Serials
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Wisconsin Policy Research Inst., Milwaukee.
Identifiers - Location: Wisconsin (Milwaukee)