Thursday, January 24, 2008

Go to the mattresses

Deb Jordahl advises supporters of virtual schools to go to the mattresses.

Rewind to 2005 when over 2000, predominately African American and Hispanic Milwaukee school choice supporters traveled to Madison to implore Doyle and the legislature to lift the cap on school choice enrollment. Doyle --- who promised to support efforts to lift the cap when he was a candidate in 2002 --- couldn’t be bothered to address the group or even poke his head out of the office door to say hello.

The rally was followed by another year of Doyle and his top aides negotiating with school choice advocates in extremely bad faith. Each attempt to reach a deal ended with Doyle making demands for increased public school funding he knew the legislature could never accept.

In January of 2006, faced with intense pressure from the Catholic Archdiocese, the Milwaukee Business Community, and a series of hard hitting television, radio and newspaper ads, featuring kids who said the Governor was destroying their dream, Doyle agreed to expand the enrollment cap from 15,000 to 22, 500 students, just in time to avert the train wreck facing choice schools. Apparently Doyle, now up for re-election, didn’t like being compared to racist southern segregationists, or taken to task by the Milwaukee business community that had largely given him a political pass until then.

But if the battle to save school choice teaches us anything, it is that the only thing politicians understand is pain ---- the sharper the better.