My wife went to Brookfield Academy. Sometimes, I like to put words in the mouths of those who send their kids there, like, "We're not letting 'those kids' in our school." I'm probably completely wrong. Brookfield Academy parents are probably very excited to see a full voucher system so that the school can be expanded and students from all walks of life can benefit from the obviously better teachers and facilities that result in better students year after year. It's exactly what should fix the system. My wife's friend, who also attended Brookfield Academy, told me this is what needs to happen and that Waiting for Superman showed her the light. Well, it's your time, now, BA. Let's see what happens.
My prediction is that when a full voucher system hits Wisconsin, upper-echelon private schools will INCREASE tuition and requirements to get in. Why? Not because it will cost more to educate the kids. Not because teachers will demand more. No, it will be weed those out that the members of the country club might not want there. Sure, BA offers a few scholarships and is very proud of its brownish faces in the crowd, but do sons and daughters of surgeons and CEOs really want to share the lunchroom with kids getting free lunch? Will they? Do Brookfield and Delafield parents want their kids hanging out with kids from the brownfields of Milwaukee who have eight siblings by four daddies? Do the exemplary teachers used to homework and high ACT accomplishment want to deal with kids who throw punches if someone mean-mugs them and are told by parents that even teachers best not dis their kids.
I'm sure BA and other private schools are not really prepared for a full voucher system, even though they want to enjoy the government cheese from their chosen students. School choice, under a full voucher system, will not be a choice made by parents, but one made by the elite schools to take the kids they see as fit for their programs, creating the same segregated system as today. The only difference? Voucher money will be added to the bank accounts of the choicest schools, resulting in more for the rich and less for the poor. Honestly, a full voucher system is a Godsend for top-end private schools and wealthy parents, as they will benefit the most. Can it be made fair? Maybe, but schools used to being on top would have to risk it all to let students not used to being on top enroll, and I don't see that really happening, meaning the worst students with the most problems will be denied access or kicked out of these wondrous places.
Ten years down the road, we'll see several success stories of kids waking up at 4am to head out to Brookfield to get to the best school around. Of course, the kid willing to do that could have succeeded at my MPS high school all along, but that story will make us all see how it just takes a helping hand and some dedication to fix it all, never mind the thousands NOT willing to get up early or who got kicked out for not conforming enough. It's a nice Horatio Alger story, anyhow.
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