Here's a teachable moment.
Advocates of school choice - and my colleagues and I are in the inner circle so I know of whence I speak - don't wish to defend bad apples in the program. We don't rally outside lousy private schools and seek to "save them." We regard them as embarrassments and believe that they ought to be held accountable. There is a debate about how that should happen. Some of us favor removal of poor schools from eligibility to participate in the program. Others believe that parents - aided by accurate and meaningful information - should be the ones to decide whether or not to send their children to a particular school. But nobody thinks it's just fine to have schools that don't help kids enrolling voucher students.
So Jim Bender, the President of School Choice Wisconsin, does not call me and suggest we lock arms outside of, say, Ceria M. Travis Academy, an embattled school participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. But "advocates" of public education - in this case, the Milwaukee teachers union - have done what amounts to the same thing. They rallied around Auer Avenue School calling for it to be "saved" from takeover by the proposed Opportunity Schools Partnership Program.
Absolutely none of the students at Auer are proficient in reading. Not a single one.
The union rallied to "save" Auer because the reorganization of the school under the proposed Opportunity Schools Partnership Program would preclude a role for MTEA. The major obstacle to public education reform is this form of regulatory capture - the assertion of political power by those who run the system and benefit from the status quo. For them, it's may be about the kids, but never at the expense of the employees. You can't be effective that way.
And, yet, it is choice advocates are accused of pandering to "special interests" and "profiteers." The irony is palpable. The inability of people who ought to know better to see that is stunning.
Cross posted at Purple Wisconsin.