Empower Wisconsin | Jan. 30, 2020
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Sen. Chris Larson and Rep. Jonathan Brostoff are hypocrites.
The Milwaukee liberals attended private schools yet they want to deny poor kids in their districts the opportunity to do the same.
The lawmakers unveiled a bill Tuesday that would phase out the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program, preventing new students from enrolling in voucher schools beginning in the 2020-21 school year. They announced the legislation at a Capitol press conference the same day that Vice President Mike Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos led a School Choice rally at Wisconsin’s statehouse.
They used phrases like “failed experiment” and “morally wrong” to describe Wisconsin’s parental choice program, the oldest and most successful voucher program in the country.
Larson graduated from St. Thomas More High School, a Catholic private school. It was not part of the Parental Choice Program at the time Larson attended but is today.
Brostoff went to a “private alternative high school,” according to a 2008 story in the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle. What private school is not clear. Brostoff, through his spokesman, would only say that Empower Wisconsin President Adam Jarchow could call Brostoff on his private line if he wants to have an “adult conversation.”
Jarchow quipped, “An adult conversation isn’t possible with only one adult.”
Empower Wisconsin simply wanted to know if the lawmakers had a comment about their time in private schools given their opposition to the state’s school choice program.
Larson did not return Empower Wisconsin’s call.
Jim Bender, president of School Choice Wisconsin, said the lawmakers’ bill would return Wisconsin to the days when white men stood at school doors and refused to let children of color in.
“We should not be suckers for a political stunt that’s going to repeat one of the worst chapters in our history,” Bender said.
Of the 21 5-star schools in Milwaukee with 80 percent or more minority students, Bender said 14 are Milwaukee Parental Choice Program schools, and five are charter schools not affiliated with Milwaukee Public Schools.
“These highest-performing schools are teaching predominantly students of color and Larson and Brostoff want to shut out those students,” Bender said.
There are more liberal hypocrites working to keep students from low-income homes out of the kind of private schools they were blessed enough to attend.
As Empower Wisconsin reported, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes went to Holy Redeemer Christian Academy. Holy Redeemer is a parental choice school, its students’ education paid for by the vouchers that Barnes and his boss, Democrat Gov. Tony Evers, have politically opposed.
On Tuesday, Barnes injected racially charged comments into the school choice debate. He mocked the vice president’s visit.
“In case this hasn’t been mentioned, the rally in the Capitol today was the most interaction many of those adults will ever have with black and brown children,” Barnes tweeted.
But many of the adults who attended the Capitol rally are in education, daily striving to make better the lives of children of color and all students hungering for a better education — a way out of poverty and the public schools that have failed them.
Bender said the liberal lawmakers’ press conference was just another political stunt.
“They are for the most part insignificant legislators, so they were going to use the timing (of Pence’s visit) to be hyperbolic and draw attention to themselves, meaning they were going to put their political careers in front of those (school choice) students who gathered at the Capitol to celebrate the success of school choice in Wisconsin. That’s a slap in the face,” Bender said.
Empower Wisconsin’s Josh Waldoch contributed to this story.