Reform Needed, but not ‘Race to Top’

Published August 3, 2010

Wednesday’s editorial bemoans Wisconsin’s second consecutive loss in the federal Race to the Top sweepstakes. It’s right to call for more reform efforts, but wrong to characterize the loss as a negative.

The Race to the Top program is nothing short of a subjective lottery aimed, ostensibly, at increasing federal control of state education systems. The Economic Policy Institute rightly calls the race “subjective and arbitrary, more a matter of bias or chance than a result of these states’ superior compliance with reform policies.”

Wisconsin schools don’t need federal standards, lip-service merit-pay programs or increased layers of bureaucracy. What they need is choice.

Citizens of Wisconsin should call on their legislators to empower parents by handing them a voucher with 75 percent of per-pupil expenditures and allowing them to choose the schools their children attend. Or they could ask for a voice in triggering a reform when their children’s schools fail.

— Marc Oestreich, The Heartland Institute, Chicago