Wisconsin’s Republicans, led by Sen. Alberta Darling, will be introducing a series of education reform bills that will put more power in the hands of parents and families. While the bills have no chance of being signed into law by union-owned Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, they give a glimpse of the good things that could happen if the voters fire Evers in November.
The pandemic, and the government’s despicable reaction to it, has surfaced many latent faults in our society and in our government institutions. First and foremost is that we have learned that many of our government schools have not been focused on education for some time. Their priorities are employee goldbricking, leftist ideological training, and celebrating average performance at the expense of the exceptional — in that order. We have seen school officials shift from their pre-pandemic stance of pretending to listen to parents to outright disdain that parents would dare to question school officials’ actions.
The legislative Republicans will seek to change the power dynamic in our government schools by putting more power into the hands of parents and taxpayers at the expense of education bureaucrats. We will see more details of the education reform bills when they are introduced, but we can see the outlines. The most important reform to be proposed is to expand school choice statewide and remove the income requirements. Under Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson, Wisconsin was a pioneer in school choice, and it has been a godsend for thousands of students to escape failing schools and get the education that they deserve. The concept is simple. Wisconsin’s taxpayers are joyfully obligated to pay for the education of all of Wisconsin’s kids, but parents are in the best position to choose the best school for their child, whether that school is run by the government or a private institution. Currently, there are three versions of school choice in Wisconsin, but all of them are restricted to low-income families and other limitations. The Republicans would seek to remove those limitations and make school choice available to every Wisconsin child. Doing so would reaffirm that Wisconsin is committed to education and not just to government institutions. The reform would make government schools more accountable and, more importantly, ensure that every family has the means to provide the education that is best for their child.
While the expansion of school choice is the most important reform proposal, the most contentious will likely be the proposal to break up Milwaukee Public Schools into several smaller districts. MPS is a failed school district that has resisted all attempts to improve it. Part of the issue is its sheer size. It has become a bureaucratic behemoth more concerned for its internal power structure than with the kids in far-flung neighborhoods. Resources are focused on plugging the holes of the sinking ship at the expense of raising the sails.
By breaking MPS into smaller districts, each district would have its own school board to be accountable to the people. Each smaller district would have its own budget so that resources could not be diverted away from their neighborhoods to buttress another school that is so far away that it might as well be in Hudson. The plan would return more control and accountability to local families. Small government is better government, and it is even more true with government schools.
Another proposed reform will be to establish a Parental Bill of Rights. Several states have enacted some version of a Parental Bill of Rights as a response to government school officials who continue to condescend to parents. A Parental Bill of Rights simply affirms some core rights that government school officials must respect or face legal consequences. Those rights include a parents’ right to guide their child’s health care, religious, and moral upbringing. These things used to be understood as part of our social construct, but aggressive leftist infiltration of our government schools make it necessary to codify them into law.
There are many additional reforms related to transparency and accountability, but all of them are designed to refocus our education system on what it is supposed to be about – educating children. Taxpayers spend billions of dollars every year on education with the simple expectation that everyone is focused on putting every dollar toward educating children. It is long past time for government to meet that expectation.
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