Lessons from Wisconsin

Published January 1, 2000

The intellectual debate over vouchers in Milwaukee may be over, but the battle to regulate educational choice still is being fought, according to American Education Reform Council president Susan Mitchell in a recent report from the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.

“The one battle that remains constant is between the educational bureaucrats and the parents who support the program,” said Institute president James Miller in his introduction to the report. “The opponents of choice have made a decision that since they cannot win legislatively or judicially, that their best opportunity is with rules and regulations that can cripple a small, private school.”

Mitchell offers the following lessons from Wisconsin for school choice supporters:

  • Expect opponents of school choice to understand the power of the regulatory threat and to use it to impede school choice at every stage.
  • Counter with a strong, vigilant, and unified coalition devoted to blocking efforts to strangle school choice.
  • Beware of proposals ostensibly designed to improve accountability.
  • Fight misinformation aggressively.
  • Support well-designed legislation.

For more information …

The October 1999 report by Susan Mitchell, “How School Choice Almost Died in Wisconsin,” is available from the publisher, the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, at P.O. Box 487, Thiensville, WI 53092, phone: 414/241-0514.