Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wisconsin Expands Choice, Cuts 220 "Escape Hatch" for Inner City Kids of Color

Partly as a result of the recent Supreme Court decision, the Republican legislature in Wisconsin has cut Milwaukee's longstanding "220" program that funds MPS children of color to attend suburban schools. At the same time, they are planning to expand the choice program from the city of Milwaukee where it is currently limited to the county of Milwaukee (a much larger area) and later to another county.

What is fascinating about this is that it fits perfectly within a right-wing agenda around schools. Eliminate the "choice" of poor kids of color to attend established integrated schools with better funding and usually stronger educational programs. And then allow them to "choose" badly funded "choice" schools can spring up and disappear like mushrooms without any significant oversight. E.g.: You can have "choice" as long as you don't "choose" to come into "my" schools. (Milwaukee's suburbs are the most segregated in the entire nation).

This is a perfect example of how particular populations are being increasingly interned in America in ways that prevent their "escape" from what have become much like prisons without walls.

The legislature's budget has to be brought into agreement with the one passed by the Democratic state senate, so we'll see what will happen.

See this recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinal Article.

I am not really up on all the "ins and outs" about 220. Here's a blog post I found on the recent decision and 220 that sounds reasonable, making an argument about possibly changing the requirements to ones based on income (see Jim's earlier post on this blog) but no guarantees on its accuracy. See also this Wisconsin State Journal article. And an older article from the Public Policy Forum. And a 1998 Rethinking Schools article on bussing in Milwaukee.

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