Jesse Jackson Jr. Joins Community Leaders, Students & Parents Urging Community to "Stand Up For Public Schools"
MILWAUKEE - National, statewide and local public school advocates today unveiled a 12-point action plan to stop the draining of funds from Milwaukee's public schools, protect the rights of children in all taxpayer funded schools, and make voucher schools accountable to the public.
The plan lays out a series of principles for legislative and administrative action that will form the basis of community efforts to strengthen the public schools by making sure that the public schools are adequately funded and that private and religious schools that receive public money under Milwaukee's voucher program are held to the same high standards of accountability and public reporting as the public schools. This year alone, the voucher program has cost the public schools $22 million.
"Parents and children shouldn't have to check their rights at the door of voucher schools," said People For the American Way Foundation president Carole Shields in announcing the action plan. "and Milwaukee's 100,000 public school children shouldn't see their schools starved for funds to pay for vouchers for a handful of students."
The plan calls for immediate action to eliminate the artificially imposed cap on SAGE schools that has denied thousands of Milwaukee's neediest school children access to this important and effective program. SAGE is a successful state program that reduces class size in low-income schools
"Milwaukee's children should have the same chance to succeed as children in the rest of Wisconsin," said Shields. "Eliminating this restriction is one way to start helping thousands of children right away."
The announcement came as People For the American Way Foundation and the NAACP kicked off a day of workshops and rallies at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. The event was organized as part of a national campaign in support of public schools and in the wake of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision not to hear the Milwaukee case.
"Vouchers take money from public school students, give it to private schools and abandon most of our children in the process," said Felmers O. Chaney of the NAACP "Our focus should be on making all of our public schools the best they can be."
Local school children also got involved in the day long event. Milwaukee students organized and planned their own workshop focused on creating their own 'action plan' in support of their public schools.
Other speakers included: Rev. Louis Sibley, III of Mt. Zion Baptist Church; Rev. Dr. Rolen L. Womack, Jr. of the Progressive Baptist Church; Wisconsin State Legislators Spencer Coggs and Gary R. George; Roxanne Starks, president of the Milwaukee City Council of PTAs; Rev. Timothy McDonald of the First Iconium Baptist Church of Atlanta, Georgia and other members of the African American Ministers Leadership Council.