School choice is on the move in Wisconsin, at least in Milwaukee County.
The state Assembly has approved a bill that will increase the number of voucher students in Milwaukee, and increase the number of private schools they can choose from.
But an idea recently suggested by Gov. Scott Walker, to spread voucher opportunities beyond Milwaukee to Green Bay, Racine and Beloit, received a cool reception from Senate President Mike Ellis, as well as several other Republicans.
Ellis also questioned a reform, embedded in the governor's budget proposal, that would lift income restrictions from voucher programs so all families would be eligible to participate.
That leads me to wonder if some Republicans, once committed to the concept of public school reform, have lost their nerve in the face of obnoxious union rallies and recall efforts.
I also wonder if Walker might have received a more positive response if he had targeted the entire state for voucher eligibility, in the same manner as Indiana. Only expanding to three cities may not sit well with legislators from areas that would not benefit.
School choice is best for all families and students. Every child is unique, and parents are best equipped to choose a school that fits their needs.
The state of Wisconsin provides a certain amount of money for every K-12 student in the state. What's wrong with letting parents spend that money at the school of their choice?
Walker sought to build momentum for school choice expansion with his keynote address to the National Policy Summit of the American Federation for Children in Washington, D.C. last week.
He focused on the idea that all students have the right to equal access to a quality education.
"Every kid, no matter where they live, no matter what their background, no matter what their parents do for a living ... deserves the opportunity to have a great education because they each have limitless potential," Walker told his audience.
"We have 100,000 kids that we serve in the city of Milwaukee. Roughly 20,000 go to choice schools but that means that 80 percent of our families are looking at some other option and the majority of which are (using) public schools ... many of which fail to live up to the standard we expect for each and every child in that community and in our state.
"We fail as a country, we fail as a nation, we fail as a society if any of our kids slip through the cracks. We have to make sure every single one of them have the same opportunities we'd want for our children and grandchildren."