School Choice Champion & Democratic Candidate for State Assembly, Jason Fields, Wins Primary

The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, celebrates the primary victory of Jason Fields, Democratic candidate for Wisconsin’s State Assembly District 11.

“Jason Fields is true public servant and champion for students in need seeking a quality education of their parents’ choice, and we are proud to see Wisconsin voters choose Fields in last night’s primary,” said Kevin P. Chavous, founding board member of the American Federation for Children. “This primary victory is a direct result of parents rising up to defend school choice and elect pro-school choice candidates.”

Fields is a Milwaukee native and previously served eight years in the Wisconsin State Assembly, where he was known to work across the aisle in order to ensure his constituents had access to quality educational options.

School choice has a great deal of bipartisan support in Wisconsin. According to a recent statewide survey, 54% of likely voters in Wisconsin support school choice. Support was strong among all political parties with 69% of Republicans, 49% of Independents and 42% of Democrats supporting the issue. Click here for full polling data.

New Statewide Survey Shows Majority Support for School Choice in Wisconsin

EDUCATION IS CITED AS VOTER’S TOP CONCERN, CLINTON LEADS TRUMP 43-31

Today the American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, released the results of a Wisconsin survey showing a majority of likely voters support the statewide voucher program in the state. The survey also found Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by a 12-point margin in the upcoming Presidential election.

Fast Facts

“Wisconsin voters continue their consistent support for school choice statewide,” said Justin Moralez, Wisconsin state director for the American Federation for Children. “One of the most notable traits from the data is the bipartisan support for the issue – an important message for our state’s leaders. We know parents want their children to have access to the best education possible and this survey demonstrates parents strongly support school choice.”

“The survey also finds that the Presidential race will be exciting in Wisconsin with Clinton leading Trump by 12 points but with nearly one-quarter of likely voters saying they are presently undecided, voting for a third party candidate or considering not voting for President at all,” added Moralez.

The survey of 600 likely Wisconsin voters was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies between May 10-12, 2016 and has a margin of error +/-4.0 percent.

Click here to view the survey results: http://bit.ly/1XTpM7B.

Wisconsin passes and improves scholarship program for special need students

Today, the Special Needs Scholarship Bill, authored by state Senator Leah Vukmir and state Representative John Jagler, passed the Senate with a 19-13 vote. SB 615 modifies and expands on a special needs voucher program created in the Wisconsin 2015 budget. The bill now moves on to Governor Scott Walker for his signature.

“Wisconsin has been at the forefront of the school choice movement, and AFC would like to thank the legislature for continuing this momentum and embracing educational choice,” said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children. “Every child, especially those with special needs, deserves access to an education tailored to meet their unique needs. This program will allow those children who are not being well served in their local public school the opportunity to attend a school that will help them thrive and succeed.”

Wisconsin currently has an Open Enrollment program, the state’s longstanding public school choice option that allows children to attend a school district other than the one in which their family lives. About 50,000 children use this program each year. Unfortunately, public schools are allowed to block children with special needs from using this option and more than 1000 rejections are given to special needs children each year.

The Special Needs Scholarship Program will allow Wisconsin students with an IEP who attended public school for the year prior the opportunity to receive a $12,000 scholarship to attend the private school of their parents’ choice. Initially, due to a drafting error, the bill passed in 2015 only addressed students going forward. SB 615 corrects that mistake and now allows for students who have been discriminated against in the past five years an opportunity to receive this scholarship.

Dani Rossa, a Wauwatosa mother who helped champion the bill said, “I’m very happy that this bill is finally passing. It will allow families [like mine] to seek an education outside of their resident public school district. I’m relieved to know that my girls can continue to get the education they deserve and require, while lessening our financial burden. I am very grateful to Sen. Vukmir and Rep. Jagler for their commitment to getting this bill passed. I want them to know that this means so much to me and my family.”

“Too many students with special needs have been stuck in public schools that failed them. Now they finally have the freedom to choose and attend a school that truly meets their needs,” said state Sen. Leah Vukmir. “I am thrilled for families in my district who can finally give their children the opportunity to thrive in a new school that works for them.”

“For too long, too many children have been locked in schools that aren’t working for them,” added state Rep. John Jagler. “The system in place, open enrollment, has failed these families as children with special needs have their application denied at a much greater rate than other students. I am very pleased relief is on the way, and applaud Senator Vukmir for fighting for these families on the joint finance committee. Let’s knock open more school house doors for these kids and trust parents to make the best educational choices for their children.”

New study describes effect between school choice and lower crime rates

Today, researchers from the University of Arkansas released a study discussing the effects of school choice on a participant’s likelihood to engage in criminal activity. Their analysis found that students who participate in a school choice program persistently were less likely to participate in criminal activity, especially male students.

Researchers analyzed the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP), the nation’s longest running school choice program, to determine whether involvement in the program had an impact on a student’s criminal activity later in life. Their results found that students who used a voucher throughout high school were five to seven percentage points less likely to commit a misdemeanor compared to their public school counterparts. Also, their likelihood of being accused of a crime was reduced by five to 12 percentage points.

“School choice continues to give children an opportunity to succeed, thrive and do all they can to avoid becoming just another statistic,” said Kevin P. Chavous, founding board member of the American Federation for Children. “This research shows the important correlation between a receiving great education and keeping children and our communities safe. We hope people look at this study and see the broad positive impact of educational choice and a quality learning environment.”

The full study can be found here: The School Choice Voucher: A “Get Out of Jail” Card?

The study was conducted by Corey DeAngelis, a doctoral student in education policy, and Dr. Patrick J. Wolf, PhD, professor and 21st Century Chair in School Choice at the University of Arkansas.

DOJ Drops Meritless Investigation into Milwaukee School Choice Program

Washington, D.C. (Jan. 4, 2016) – The American Federation for Children (AFC), the nation’s voice for educational choice, today celebrated a decision by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to end its overreaching and unnecessary investigation into the Milwaukee voucher program. AFC also urged U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan and Gwen Moore to withdraw their letter from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and quit their attempt to use federal agencies to undermine a state-based school choice program.

“The decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to close its investigation into the Milwaukee School Choice program is both long overdue and a victory for students and parents who rely on the school choice program,” said Kevin P. Chavous, executive counsel to the American Federation for Children. “This is another example of the U.S. Department of Justice trying to interfere with the parents’ right to choose the best school for their son or daughter, and similar to the outcome in Louisiana – parental choice prevailed and the DOJ investigation was without merit.”

In 2011, opponents of parental choice asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Milwaukee voucher program for allegedly discriminating against students with disabilities. For four years DOJ has investigated the matter, but closed its investigation without any evidence of wrong doing or acts of discrimination.

In January 2015, U.S. Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI), along with Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) and other representatives, asked the U.S. General Accountability Office to investigate the merits of state based school choice programs.

“Reps. Pocan and Moore’s letter to the GAO is nothing more than a politically motivated attack on stated-based school choice programs that empower parents to have more control of their child’s education,” added Chavous. “I urge Rep. Pocan and Rep. Moore to stop wasting federal resources by trying to undermine parental school choice and focus on what’s best for parents and kids by breaking down the barriers to school choice nationwide.”

The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program is the nation’s oldest private school choice program, enacted in 1990, and today serves an estimated 30,000 students.

“Jason Fields is true public servant and champion for students in need seeking a quality education of their parents’ choice, and we are proud to see Wisconsin voters choose Fields in last night’s primary,” said Kevin P. Chavous, founding board member of the American Federation for Children. “This primary victory is a direct result of parents rising up to defend school choice and elect pro-school choice candidates.”

Fields is a Milwaukee native and previously served eight years in the Wisconsin State Assembly, where he was known to work across the aisle in order to ensure his constituents had access to quality educational options.

School choice has a great deal of bipartisan support in Wisconsin. According to a recent statewide survey, 54% of likely voters in Wisconsin support school choice. Support was strong among all political parties with 69% of Republicans, 49% of Independents and 42% of Democrats supporting the issue. Click here for full polling data.

Building a Child’s Self Esteem in School Starts with Giving Parents a Choice

By Kim Martinez, AFC National Correspondent

Recently a Florida teacher’s video went viral showing how he begins class everyday with a simple yet effective ritual. The video shows how he brings up each and every one of his students to the front of his class to compliment them so they start their day feeling special and important. The teacher works at a private school that specializes in teaching students with learning disabilities. The students in this class are fortunate to have such a devoted teacher who knows how to reach them. All parents should have the choice to put their children in a school best reaches that child’s mind and heart.

St. Marcus School in Milwaukee has a similar approach when teaching its students. Each child that attends school at St. Marcus is cared for mind, body and soul. In fact, the school opens early in the morning and stays open late at night attending to any need the kids may have. Most of the children at St. Marcus are from low-income families and bad neighborhoods. These are families who could never afford tuition at a school like St. Marcus, but because of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, these children attend a school where each and every child feels important.

Watch the administration, teachers and staff spend as they show how they spend all day every day building their student’s self worth along with their minds.