An eleventh-hour compromise between Wisconsin's Governor Jim Doyle, a Democrat, and Republican state House Speaker John Gard just might resuscitate Milwaukee's voucher program. Following months of political stalling, the governor and speaker worked out an agreement that would expand the cap on students in the program from roughly 15,000 to 22,000. It would also require voucher schools to work toward improving their quality (see here for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's series on this sticky issue). Gard correctly noted, "The schools would be devastated if we didn't pass the bill. You would see a number of schools close." But that outcome doesn't seem to bother many in the state legislature, where Democratic opposition to vouchers remains strong. The New York Times's John Tierney did find one young Democrat willing to buck the partisan trend in favor of better options for urban kids. Jason Fields, a first-term representative and supporter of the voucher program, asks, "If the Democratic Party is supposed to be the party of the little guy, where do we get off opposing a chance to help those with the least of all?" We suspect the folks at Fields's local teachers union might have an answer.
"DPI rationing plan would sting schools," by Alan J. Borsuk, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 20, 2006
"Let Your People Stay," by John Tierney, New York Times, February 21, 2006 (paid subscription required)