School Choice, Comprehensive Investment Keys to Addressing Underperforming Schools

School vouchers, freedom to choose appropriate schools characterize Wisconsin government's dedication to education improvement.

By UW College Republicans E-Board

Wisconsin Republicans have been revolutionizing how education is done in the state. For years, Democrats threw more and more money without real solutions to the growing achievement and fiscal issues at our public schools.

Since Act 10, more money has been funneled to students, rather than to obscene teacher pensions and benefits. Not only that, more students than ever before are participating in our school choice system, empowering students and parents to make their own educational choices.

The primary reason to support school choice is pure, unadulterated freedom. As Americans, we deserve the freedom to decide where our children are going to attend school and what kind of curriculum they’re receiving. Supporting school choice allows us to put important educational decisions back into the hands of our parents and students instead of trusting government bureaucracy to meet the needs of every student.

A student’s zip code shouldn’t determine educational outcomes. That’s why they should be allowed to explore other options beside public schools that fail them. School choice has overwhelmingly benefitted students.

A meta-study by the Friedman Foundation found that not only were academic outcomes of choice students positive in 11 of 12 studies done at the time, but also choice improved outcomes in public schools, had positive gains for the taxpayer, decreased racial segregation in schools and increased civic values. The Manhattan Institute looked specifically at Milwaukee schools and also found that public schools were far better off with choice in the district.

We shouldn’t be surprised that school choice research had overwhelmingly positive results. When competition is introduced to the market in the form of charter or voucher schools, it forces public schools to adapt. Public schools have for too long had a monopoly on Wisconsin’s children and now, even they are improving as a direct result of school vouchers.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t work to be done. A great example is the Racine Unified School District, which nearly failed students almost two years in a row. Even after Act 10 was passed, RUSD continued to negotiate unfair contracts with their teacher union, putting obscene amounts of money into the pockets of administrators and keeping it away from students.

The left has created a bogus narrative in Wisconsin that Republicans, especially Gov. Scott Walker, hate public schools. Counter that narrative with the fact that Walker has invested more in K-12 education than ever before. Not only have Republicans increased school voucher funds, but they’ve also allocated more money to improving underperforming school districts.

It’s clear what will improve our education system: Decreased government control. It’s no secret that Common Core is not the solution. Common Core has become simply another example of governmental overreach. We must bestow our students with proper 21st century skills, and that does not get done through big bureaucracy. Conservatives understand what it takes to mend our education system — giving every parent and child a choice and better yet, a chance. We need to be sure that every student has access to an education that gives them a fair shot.

Wisconsin Republicans love our students and we’re doing more than ever to increase choices for parents and improve our public schools. Democrats need to stop caring more about union donors than the students those teachers are supposed to serve.

This article was also published in The Badger Herald.

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