Anti-choice zealots would rather force taxpayers to ante up $1.4 million each year to maintain empty buildings than allow students in high-quality schools of choice from using them
The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the extremes to which Milwaukee’s leftist bureaucrats and educational labor-union bosses go to keep high-performing private and charter schools from purchasing or even leasing “vacant, unused school buildings that the city owns.”
For years, school-choice detractors have tried unsuccessfully to shut down the wildly popular Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, which now provides individual scholarships in the amount of $6,442 to assist each of its 25,000 students escape a failing school district where only 4 percent of black eighth-graders are NAEP-proficient in math.
from accusing choice schools of discrimination to suing the state of Wisconsin while claiming the scholarships represent an illegal use of taxpayer money. s public schools dropped from 98,185 in 1998 to only 71,304 today.
So opponents’ latest tactic is to keep private and public charter schools from purchasing or leasing 15 school buildings currently vacant due, ironically, to the enrollment decline.
Despite the fact that taxpayers shell out $1.4 million annually to maintain empty buildings, the WSJ reports the city of Milwaukee has an “arbitrary administrative policy” prohibiting choice schools from purchasing or leasing the buildings. Plus, “for the few abandoned buildings that have been sold, the school district has slapped a restrictive deed on the buildings to prevent the buyer from ever selling to them to a choice school.”
“The city would rather spend $1 million a year on upkeep than let charters buy the abandoned structures,” according to the WSJ article.
If you don’t think that teacher-union bosses or their enabling political pals are aware of stiff competition provided by outstanding choice schools, then consider Milwaukee Public Schools Board President Michael Bond’s response when asked about this asinine policy: “(It would be) like asking the Coca-Cola Company to turn over its facilities to Pepsi so Pepsi can expand and compete with the Coca-Cola Company.”
Would Kentucky school-choice opponents go to this extreme to hinder charter schools if – uh, when – they finally arrive in the Bluegrass State?
Or will educational labor-union bosses resist the temptation to sign on with Bond’s anti-choice ideology and instead, rightly, point out that what we’re talking here is about students, not soda? I wouldn’t bet on it – especially since they won’t even participate in an honest debate about public charter schools.