It’s a the same song and dance we go through every year on School Choice, but with increased relevance given what Assembly Democrats did to the program last night. In a motion passed behind closed doors, Democrats capped participation in the Milwaukee School Choice program at 19,500, which could throw hundreds of kids back into the Milwaukee Public School system in the next two years.
Of course, it is in the Democrats’ best interests to try to handicap a program that demonstrates that kids can actually be educated by non-teachers union members, and for half the cost to boot. The teachers’ union continually tries to portray school choice as “costing” statewide school districts money, when, in fact, it actually saves state taxpayers.
Yesterday, State Representative Mike Huebsch released a memo from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau that demonstrates what would occur to non-MPS school districts if the School Choice program were reduced and Choice students were moved back into MPS – where they cost state taxpayers a lot more to educate, in a district failing miserably. The memo tells us what anyone paying attention already knows: it costs less to educate a kid in choice than it does in MPS – so if you dump those kids back into MPS, it steals money from school districts around the state.
Take a look at Table 1 of the memo: If the choice program were disbanded altogether, MPS would get $203 million more in state aid, while districts around the state would lose $145 million, since it costs so much more to educate kids in MPS. They would then jack up statewide property taxes to make up that difference, as the law allows them to do.
So if you don’t live in Milwaukee, and don’t care about School Choice because you think this is a parochial program just to help the kids in the city, you should reconsider – if only to save your own wallet.
And it can’t be said too many times – this has nothing to do with the “state budget” (as it doesn’t meaningfully affect state finances) and everything to do with strangling a program the teachers’ union opposes.