NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

School Choice Wins In Milwaukee

April 8, 1999

Milwaukee, Wis., voters this week swept candidates backed by the teachers' union off the school board and installed a slate which wants school accountability, rigorous standards, reduced bureaucracy and more choice and charter schools.

The reformers now hold seven of the nine school board seats.

The teachers' union spent $500,000 on a television and print campaign to defeat incumbent reformer John Gardner, running for an at-large seat -- but he won with 60 percent of the vote.

Voters, including sizable numbers of teachers, were apparently fed up with a public school system which has a graduation rate of only 44 percent of high school students.

From its beginnings in the early 1990s, the school choice movement in Milwaukee has grown to the point where 15,000 students have left public schools to enroll in private ones.

Democratic Mayor John Norquist, who had joined with local business leaders to push the reform slate, commented that the election results market "the end of excuse-based education."

Source: Editorial, "School Unions Demoted," Wall Street Journal, April 8, 1999.


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