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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Walker Advocates School Choice Agenda in Washington Speech

Thank you for bringin the School Choice Movement to the National Stage

"Washingyon, D.C. - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker brought his
school-choice message to an American Federation for Children 'policy summit' here Monday night.
The national school choice advocacy group hailed the governor as a
'great innovator.'
Walker reminded the crowd of about 300 that it was former Gov. Tommy Thompson who in 1990 instituted the first school voucher program in the country, allowing low-income parents to send children to high-performing private or parochial schools.
He touted the program's success to date as something that he hopes to build on going forward.
One of Walker's goals outlined in the state budget for 2012 is to
expand the existing program, which currently serves about 20,000
low-income students in the city of Milwaukee, to all low-income
children in the city.
Walker said he would eventually grow the program to include all of
Milwaukee County (and later, to cities like Racine, Beloit and Green
Bay) and raise the income eligibility to include more middle-class
"Every kid deserves the opportunity to have a great education," Walker said. "Until we fix the education system - not just for the 20,000 in the choice program - until we fix it for everyone, we're not only going to miss out on the moral imperative,we're going to miss out on the economic opportunity.That's where these reforms come into play.'
Walker spent a large portion of his speech linking the 'moral
imperative' of ensuring that all children can receive a great
education to the economic necessity of a well-educated workforce in
the 21st century.
'It's not only good for our children; I think when you make a
commitment to true education reform it's also good foryour state's
economy,' he said. 'In the end what is ultimately going to sustain
economic growth for generations to come is an educated workforce.'
Walker also sought to place his effort to expand school choice in the
broader context of other, more controversial budget reforms, for
example the restrictions placed on collective bargaining power of
public unions that he said will give local governments greater
flexibility in terms of how to operate their school systems.
He said this particular aspect of the budget, limiting power of
teachers unions, for instance by doing away with the 'seniority
system that emphasizes length of tenure over teacher quality, was "one of the most important things we did.'
'Because of our reforms . there aren't going to be groups out there
with the power to say we're going to put a grievance against that
86-year-old senior citizen who wanted to volunteer in Wausau to be a crossing guard; there isn't going to be a group out there that can
stand up and say they're going to defend the teacher in Cedarburg who was watching pornography on a school computer and yet his union stood up and backed him up; instead we're going to allow teachers to do what they really want to do, and that is educate kids.'
Walker acknowledged the contentious nature of the policies he was
proposing. In fact, several dozen union protestors picketed the hotel where the summit was being held.
But Walker said true leadership requires making bold, sometime
unpopular decisions. 'It's real simple,' he said. 'You have to ask
yourself a gut question - at least when you're in politics - do you
care about the next generation, or do you care about the next
All indications, Walker said, suggest his boldness was paying off --
Wisconsin is 'headed down the right path.'
He cited a recent survey of CEO's published in Chief Executive
Magazine, which ranked states from 1-50 in terms of the best places to do business. Wisconsin ranked 41st last year, but as of last week is ranked 24th, the biggest jump in the history of the survey.
'And I'm not satisfied [with] 24,' he said. 'To me there are 23 more
states I need to leap over to get to the top.'
This was the governor's second trip to the nation's capital in a month.
In April, Walker testified before the U.S. House Committee on
Oversight and Government Reform at a hearing to examine the challenges of state and municipal debt, where he defended the steps taken by his administration to close a $3 billion budget shortfall.
It is yet another example of Walker's rising prominence on the
national political stage.
When asked by reporters following the speech if he was considering a run for higher office in the near future, Walker said he is focused
solely on the task at hand of creating a better business environment
in the state of Wisconsin.
'Until I get that I really can't focus on anything else,' he said.
Read: Walker pushes school choice agenda in Washington speech - Leader-Telegram: Daily Updates

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