Milwaukee: The Failed Promise of Vouchers

Diane Ravitch's blog

Milwaukee has had vouchers since 1990. The program was expanded to include religious schools in 1998. Voucher advocates, led by former superintendent Howard Fuller, insisted that school choice was the best way to raise the woeful academic performance of black students. Fuller, a social worker and one-time advocate for black nationalism, is now head of the pro-choice Black Alliance for Educational Options. Fuller, the one-time radical, has long been subsidized by rightwing foundations, including the Bradley Foundation and the Walton Foundation (and the Gates Foundation). None of the whites who run these foundations have any credibility in black communities, but Fuller is an effective salesman for their segregationist ideas.

In the early days of vouchers and charters, advocates promised that school choice would cause schools to get better by competing for students. School choice would bring about a rising tide that would lift all boats. Public schools would improve, they…

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