Here's a thought experiment to test how much of the choice controversy actually revolves around accountability. Let's say that we agree that choice schools should all be independently accredited and should administer the same standardized tests as MPS and publicly disclose the results. (Maybe you'd need to tweak these requirements to account for a school's religious character or alternate educational philosophy, but let's put that aside for now.)
Let's also assume that we agree with Mayor Barrett and specify that Milwaukee taxpayers should pay no more than they pay for each kid in MPS, i.e, $1900 or so. So instead of asking Milwaukee taxpayers to come up with 45% of the cost of the choice program, let's just say they need contribute only the same amount per pupil as they pay for each student in MPS.
But since we are going to require all these choice schools to be "accountable," we can't possibly leave them underfunded ! Since the Governor and the teachers unions all believe that money is the sine qua non of educational excellence, I am sure they will agree that the local share of the cost of the choice program (that we have now reduced to $1900/student) should be paid to the choice schools and not to the state. In this way the choice schools will get the same equalization aid and the same local support that MPS enjoys. For both Milwaukee and state taxpayers, there would be no fiscal gain or loss as a result of a student opting to enroll in a choice school.
The out-state legislators might not want to give up the savings, but shouldn't Doyle, the Dems and the unions go for that?
Does anyone believe for one moment that they would?