MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN — As Governor Scott Walker’s state budget inches toward passage, parents, teachers and students are taking to the streets to oppose sections of the education budget, which include sweeping changes they say would effectively privatize many public schools while draining funding from others.
On an afternoon in early June, a few dozen public school advocates marched up and down a busy street in the wealthy Milwaukee suburb Menomonee Falls, chanting, “Education is a civil right!” and “Down with privatization, up with MPS!” The group was picketing in the district of State Senator Alberta Darling (R) to oppose her bill to take over some low-performing Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) and turn them over to private or charter operators. Those schools would be controlled by an appointed commissioner, not the elected school board. While the sponsors of the bill hail from the suburbs, the legislators who actually represent the impacted community in Milwaukee oppose the plan.
One of the demonstrators that day was Rafael Diaz, a junior at Ronald Reagan High School in Milwaukee. He said of Senator Darling and her co-sponsors: “They want to come into our schools, in a district they don’t represent, and take it over. But they don’t know what’s best for our schools.”
When ThinkProgress asked what he feared would result from the takeover, Diaz said he’s “worried the charters wouldn’t care for the students. MPS has to cater to every student, no matter how much help you need. When a charter comes in, they don’t have to offer that, so students will be neglected in the system, especially students with disabilities.”
The parents and teachers marching beside Diaz echoed his concerns, pointing to recent cases of private schools in Milwaukee expelling struggling students after cashing their voucher checks.
Read more at NationofChange.