Let's start with some data. Here are the total private and public school enrollments for the State of Wisconsin 2008-2014, and then again 2000-2004.
*I could've mistyped or incorrectly added any number- doesn't change the obvious
Year Private Enrollment Public Enrollment Total Enrollment Private % Public %
2014 119,801 874,414 994,215 12 88
2013 122,949 872,436 995,385 12.4 87.6
2012 124,668 871,105 995,770 12.5 87.5
2011 125,372 872,286 997,658 12.6 87.4
2010 126,812 872,436 999,248 12.7 87.3
2009 130,800 873,586 1,004,386 13 87
2008 133,606 874,633 1,008,239 13.3 86.7
2004 137,852 880,031 1,017,883 13.5 86.5
2003 142,619 881,231 1,023,850 13.9 86.1
2002 146,145 879,361 1,025,506 14.2 85.8
2001 148,336 879,476 1,027,812 14.4 85.6
Three obvious facts:
1. We are a declining enrollment state.
2. The overall percentage of students attending public and private schools has remained remarkably steady
3. The overall percentage of students attending private schools is down slightly
Here is my story built on those facts.
The last decade or so has seen unprecedented attacks on public schools. The drumbeat of negativity is relentless. Public schools are failing. We are a nation at risk. Public schools are horrible. Achievement is down. Have you heard that the Common Core is teaching students to masturbate? What we need is a voucher in every backpack. School Choice is the answer. On and on and on it goes.
All politics is local.
I believe that the public is buying into this national, and statewide narrative, even as they continue to believe that THEIR local school is basically fine. If there was ever going to be a decade when people abandoned their crummy local school in favor of a superior private experience- it would've been the last one. And yet, the percentage of people attending public schools has remained relatively constant.
In the meantime, those who would seek to destroy public education have slowly accumulated political power- and they aim to use that power.
The public has bought the overall narrative, and they don't see the negative consequences at the local level, so they are silent to supportive of many education reform efforts.
Well, the time has come to say ENOUGH. Public schools serve most students in most communities, often the most vulnerable. Public schools are not failing- that argument is built on manufactured data.
Do you know why people around here support Friess Lake School? Because we're good! You know what else we are? Very much like most other public schools.
Governor Walker's budget is bad for public education. It is bad for the almost 90% of students served by public schools. It is bad for the State of Wisconsin.