IRG Action Urges Lawmakers to Support School Choice for All, Empowering Parents, & Breaking-up MPS

Today, the Assembly Education Committee will have a public hearing on parts of the historic, IRG Action-backed, K-12 education reform package, which includes school choice for all, breaking-up Milwaukee Public Schools, childhood literacy reforms, and expanding public charter schools. 

Over the last few months, IRG Action has been active in connecting with and amplifying voices of teachers, parents and taxpayers across the state who support upending the status quo of our state’s failing education system. Our efforts continue into today as our EVP Chris Reader will deliver testimony on several of the bills in consideration.  Read below for highlights from IRG Action’s testimony or click here to follow along on WisconsinEye at 9:30am.

“It’s time for Wisconsin to lead the nation in ensuring that all children have access to a high-quality education,” said Chris Reader, IRG Action’s executive vice president. “From empowering all families with school choice to expanding public charter schools to overhauling Milwaukee’s public school system, the K-12 package makes sure that students and their families are always put first– and special interests last.” 

1. School Choice for All (AB 970)

“AB 970 will reclaim Wisconsin’s national leadership role in providing options to children and their parents. It removes state enrollment caps, family income limits, and grade entry points on the existing Milwaukee, Racine, and statewide parental choice programs… 

It also creates individual scholarships for children in public schools to take courses from an approved provider.  Funds can also be used to pay for educational materials and resources offered by a wide variety of education providers…

If passed, this would be one of the biggest wins for children and families since the start of the school choice program, enabling all children to have access to world-class courses, materials, and other educational supports, no matter their background or where they are in the state.”   

Read our full testimony here.

This is generating real momentum!  Parents are rallying around more empowerment. Through AFC-Wisconsin, over 500 Wisconsin parents sent more than 1,500 emails to their lawmakers in support of bills that would expand school choice and parental rights in education.

2.  Splitting Milwaukee Public Schools into smaller school districts (AB 966)

“Milwaukee Public School District is simply ‘too big to succeed’ and too broken to be healed through half-measures.  Something must be done, and we applaud the authors of AB 966 for starting this conversation.”

 Read our full testimony here. And read the testimony from AEI Senior Fellow Howard Husock here. ATR President Grover Norquist here (also testifying in favor of School Choice For All)

3. Expanding Independent Charter Schools (AB 967 & AB 968)

“AB 967 and AB 968 would begin to remove barriers to more high-quality public schools in the state by creating an additional statewide independent charter authorizer and enabling the most successful existing charters to expand.” 

Read our full testimony here.

4.  3rd Grade Reading Proficiency (AB 971)

“We are doing children a far worse disservice if we continue to pass them through a system knowing that they will struggle in the absence of foundational reading skills. When students struggle to learn to read by the end of third grade, they are much more likely to also struggle in other areas of school and life. Please help the children in our state and approve AB 971.” 

Read our full testimony here.

5.  Empowering parents to send children to schools that stay open (AB 995)

“The bill also requires each school district to offer full-time in-person options to all enrolled students. This important clarification ensures that schools do not lock the doors to in-person learning again. Wisconsin families work hard and know what is best for their families.  Parents count on their local schools, which they pay for with their hard-earned tax dollars, to remain open and operational so that their children can prepare for their future.”

Read our full testimony here. 

For more on IRG Action’s K-12 efforts in the Capitol today, tune in here to listen to CEO CJ Szafir on WTMJ 620 at 10:30am and tune in here to listen at 2:30pm on the Vicki McKenna Show.