A Wall Street Journal editorial criticizes Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) for wasting money on empty school buildings rather than sell them to private schools in the school choice program.
“Milwaukee’s recalcitrance is denying thousands of students a better education—St. Marcus Lutheran alone has 264 students on its wait list—while draining tax dollars,” the editorial noted. “Annual utility bills for vacant buildings cost $1 million, and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty calculates that the district could recover $5 million from selling its unoccupied real estate.”
The editorial says MPS is a mess, and that mess has led to a mass exit from the school system by parents looking for better schools for their children.
“Merely 62% of students graduate from high school in four years, and proficiency rates are 15% in math and just over 20% in English,” the editorial said. “Families are escaping to charter and private schools, which has resulted in 11,000 vacant seats and a budget shortfall that’s expected to swell to $130 million within five years.”
However, MPS’ refusal to sell the vacant buildings to private schools in the school choice program is preventing schools that work from being able to expand. The editorial calls on the Wisconsin legislature to threaten MPS’ funding if the district does not sell the unused school buildings.
The editorial also notes that if Democrats manage to defeat Gov. Scott Walker in November, then Democrats will likely block attempts to get kids out of failing schools.