From the MOV to Milwaukee

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 18 2012

Reflections on Choice (the good and bad)


The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.  The reason my lovely school exists.  What a tough idea to grapple with.


The good:

–without it, would my students be at  less effective MPS school?

–Christian and character grounded education for students who wouldn’t otherwise get it (while this isn’t a goal of the choice program, I think its one of the things that keeps my school pushing forwards)

–no red tape.  Not many of the teachers at my school have Wisconsin teaching licenses or administrators licenses.  But mark my words, the state of Wisconsin is LUCKY to have such dedicated educators in their state

–no red tape (again).  Parents/guardians sign the handbook and agree to come to conferences, accept our school wide management plan, etc.  They get mad about waiting for an hour ’cause their kid is in detention?  They signed on to this.

–No Wisconsin state standards here!  My students laughed at the WKCE on Friday.  They’re getting a richer education.


The bad:

–what about the kids whose parents don’t care? (It happens).

–Segregation: my school is 99.9% African American.  Which is fine, but I want their eyes open to a diverse range of experiencse

–Community activism:  in a neighborhood school, the school becomes a rallying point, a place to hold meetings, a place to organize movement.  My students are dispersed throughout the city (although HOPE has more of a community feel than most)

–long term investment.  A parent gets mad?  They take their kid out of the school.  They don’t like that school?  They move again.  Kids change schools here like I changed hair color in college.  Instead of choice causing competition, it can feel like a bad election when you pick the “best” of the worst.   A bunch of mediocre schools with students moving in and out.


While I may not be a relentless supporter of the “choice movement”, I know that my kids are better off right now.  This isn’t even scratching the surface of an expansive issue.  But I figured I would jot some ideas down (especially since I’m planned for the week! Only ’cause its Thanksgiving).  Thoughts about how you’ve seen school choice work in your community is welcome :)

3 Responses

  1. The bad: It’s using taxpayer money to fund religious education, which is unconstitutional.

  2. Sam

    I think another key point is that YOUR school may be serving students well, but with the “no red tape” there is a lot of leeway for schools to simply do whatever they see fit – I.e. no state standards, unlicensed teachers who may not be actually qualified or properly trained, and administration who is not accountable to the general public or the state. It’s the general trouble with privatization – while some companies/schools might operate with integrity, other may not. It’s a gamble…

  3. ekv001

    Because the $$ is being given to the parent (not directly to the school), the Supreme Court has ruled that it doesn’t violate the separation of church and state. While I appreciate your opinion, that isn’t the central issue and hasn’t been for quite some time.

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