School choice organizers in Wisconsin say Vice President Mike Pence is coming to the state to celebrate their success.

Pence will visit the State Capitol in Madison next week for a rally during School Choice Week. 

Jim Bender, president of School Choice Wisconsin, said Pence’s visit is the latest sign that Wisconsin is one of the leading states in the country when it comes to options for parents and students. 

“Wisconsin, Indiana, and Florida are three of the states that have the largest school-choice programs,” Bender said Wednesday.

The vice president was key to expanding Indiana’s school choice program when he was governor. Bender said the vice president continues to support school choice from the Trump Administration. 

The support for school choice in Wisconsin, though, is what is being celebrated next week. 

“Right after Gov. Walker was elected, there was one program in Wisconsin. We had 21,000 students and about 110 schools in the Milwaukee program,” Bender said. “Fast forward to today. We now have four programs with 350 schools and 43,453 students.”

That is more than triple the schools and double the number of students in about a decade. 

Bender said Wisconsin is poised for more school choice growth in the coming years, particularly away from Milwaukee. 

“Milwaukee is at a point now, because we’ve had the program there for 30 years, that the high-performing schools are physically full. They have waiting lists. So you do see the growth in Milwaukee. There is still growth, just not the rapid growth that you’ve seen out state,” Bender said.

Bender said he sees steady growth for school choice in Wisconsin for the next several years. 

“Public school open enrollment is now north of 60,000 students,” he said. “And you’ve got more than 43,000 students on a voucher. Then you’ve got another 10,000 or 12,000 students in independent charters or virtual charters,” Bender said. “So now you have far in excess of 100,000 students who are publicly funded who do not attend their resident-school district.”

That number represents greater than 10 percent of all children enrolled in Wisconsin schools. 

The vice president will visit the statehouse in Madison Tuesday, Jan 28. There will be a school choice rally from noon until 1 pm. 

Bender says this is the first time that a sitting president or vice president will visit the Wisconsin Capitol. 

Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square. Reposted with permission.