By Jeff Simpson
We recently brought you a quick look inside one of Milwaukee's private voucher schools as seen by the great Rebecca Kemble.
This is of course on the heels of Robin Vos, telling anyone who will listen:
More school choice is in Wisconsin's future according to an article by Rep. Robin Vos in the Appleton Post-Crescent. According to Vos, "every Wisconsin parent should also be given the opportunity to enroll their child in the school of their choice" just like we are free to decide where to live, what to wear, what to say, where to go to college, etc.The Progressive's new editor-in-chief, Ruth Coniff, now gives us her perspective of the trip she took with Ms. Kemble.
Vos says "we should never have implemented a cap [on the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program] and I will work to get rid of it because schools choice works for Wisconsin."
I recently went on a tour of Milwaukee voucher schools for an article in The Progressive magazine that left me in a cold sweat.
I saw kids going to school in a crumbling office building and in a corner store. There's a new voucher school opening in an old car dealership, and there are others in rundown factory buildings that have never been properly cleaned up. Students are being sent to such places at taxpayer expense thanks to Wisconsin's expanding Parental Choice Program. The vast majority of the kids in the Milwaukee voucher program are very poor.
What started as an idea that was supposed to expand opportunity for these kids to attend private and parochial schools has turned into a business opportunity for hucksters who set up fly-by-night schools that profit by taking public funds and running cheap, unregulated schools. You have to see for yourself how bad these places are to believe it.
At Milwaukee's "Academy of Excellence" -- the grungy office-building school -- they are teaching the Bob Jones University curriculum. There are posters in the hall that say "God can see your heart, and he knows that it is wicked." I looked in on a middle-school science class full of eighth-grade boys who were learning Creationism.
This is our vision for public school?
What chance do these kids have of ever climbing out of poverty or of connecting with the middle class? We are leaving them so, so far behind.(Edit Note: I hope everyone knows what they teach at Bob Jones University!)
To be fair, NOT everyone gets left behind by voucher/private schools. Some are doing incredibly well.
Take Ron Packard, K12's former CEO. In 2012, he earned a base salary of $625,000, a "performance" bonus of $584,375, a stock award worth $1.25 million, and stock options worth $1.5 million. But there's more. The company matched 25 percent of his salary for his retirement fund. Now that's a luxurious pension. And who funds this kind of deal? Taxpayers.
Contrast that with a public-school teacher's average salary of about $50,000 and an annual pension of about $40,000.
Kind of explains why Robin Vos wants to keep sending our tax dollars his way, doesn't it?