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National School Choice Week in Milwaukee

By Jason Fields, Former Wisconsin State Representative

Milwaukee pulled out all the stops this year when the National School Choice Whistlestop Tour came to town. This national week-long celebration of expanded public education options for parents and students all over the country began January 27th and continues through February 3rd. This year it ran right through Milwaukee on January 30th.

400+ students from public, public charter and private schools in Milwaukee were in attendance. 

The DFER WI team worked like crazy to make sure that the Milwaukee event was the biggest (and best) event on the tour - and I’m pleased to say they were successful. When the Whistlestop Tour pulled into Milwaukee it was greeted by 400+ students and parents from traditional public, public charter and private schools from every corner of the city. This event marks the first time that Milwaukee will celebrate choice in ALL its forms. The Milwaukee Public Schools, the private schools that participate in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program and the independent public charter schools were all partners in the event. This was a first and it was very exciting to be a part of the festivities.

The unity didn’t stop there. As a former legislator, I am all too familiar with the pervasive and often divisive political reality of education policy. DFER WI has made it one of their priorities to make sure this event was not only a celebration of kids and parents, but a reminder that education reform is NOT a partisan issue. Too often politicians stand in the way of Milwaukee children and the schools that serve them. Not today - today some of the top Democratic and progressive leaders in Milwaukee and Wisconsin stood up for them. DFER was honored to welcome Milwaukee Mayor (and two-time Democratic gubernatorial candidate) Tom Barrett, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines and elected State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Tony Evers. Governor Walker and cadre of other elected officials from both political parties also joined them to celebrate the diversity of Milwaukee’s education ecosystem.

Congratulations, Milwaukee! It’s about time we really celebrate the options we have made available to our parents and kids. And thanks to all our leaders for turning out to show your support for ALL of our schools and the kids they serve.

See additional photos from the event here.

Jason Fields, a Milwaukee native, served as a Democrat in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 2004 to 2012. During his time in office, Jason was a champion for school choice and charter school programs within Milwaukee and throughout the state. He was the driving force behind a program that helped transfer over 20,000 Milwaukee school children from failing neighborhood schools to private institutions that better suited their needs.

As a legislator, Fields was known for his ability to build relationships on both sides of the aisle. He often put people ahead of politics in order to pursue his passion for education reform and ensure that high quality charter and school choice programs remained a legislative priority.