St. Anthony School in Milwaukee exists today only because of the city's voucher program. In 1998, before the state supreme court allowed public money to fund religious schools, St. Anthony enrolled under 300 students. Now it has over 1,000 pupils (all but about a dozen attend on vouchers) and is thriving. The school has a back-to-basics view of learning, one that prizes phonics, for example, and Core Knowledge instruction. The students, almost all of whom are from Spanish-speaking homes, are occupied with work the entire day. "They're so busy," said teacher Jenni Madden about her fifth-graders. "There's no time for discipline issues." The kids aren't the only ones who have to adjust to St. Anthony's rigid atmosphere, though. The teachers do, too. Madden, like most of her colleagues, attended an education school that taught constructivist instruction, which allows students to do their own, self-guided learning. Such flim-flam doesn't cut it in Madden's real classroom, she says, or in St. Anthony School at large. Three cheers for the Milwaukee voucher program that allows hundreds of students to attend this fine institution, and three cheers for the teachers who, with the help of spot-on instructional methods, make a real education possible for their charges.
"Changes at St. Anthony Make It a School to Watch," by Alan Borsuk, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 8, 2008