WILL’s Status Report on Education in WI Reaffirms Importance of School Choice 

WILL’s Status Report on Education in WI Reaffirms Importance of School Choice 

School Choice Week (January 21-28) was recently observed here in Wisconsin and around the country. (January 21-28).  It’s appropriate that we reflect on the critical role that educational choice plays in our state. School choice empowers parents and students, giving them the freedom to choose educational options that best suit their individual needs, aspirations, and personal and family values.

Wisconsin has a plethora of educational options for parents, including district-based public schools, open enrollment for families wanting to send their children to a public school in another district, charter schools, virtual schools, regular private schools, and private schools participating in one of our three Parental Choice Programs–Milwaukee, Racine, Statewide–and homeschooling.

Reports like the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty’s annual Apples to Apples play a pivotal role in this educational choice discussion. This study provides valuable insights into the performance of various types of schools (public, independent charter, and voucher), offering data-driven evidence on why school choice matters by putting schools on a level playing field to assess education across all types of Wisconsin schools. 

WILL found that students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program consistently achieve higher academic results in English/Language Arts and math than their counterparts in public schools. Students enrolled in Milwaukee’s charter schools in general outperformed their peers in public schools. Twelve of the top 20 schools in Wisconsin are in the state’s choice (aka, “voucher”) programs. Moreover, choice and charter schools more efficiently use taxpayer money. In general, our voucher program is a win for both students and taxpayers.

WILL Research Director, Will Flanders, said, “Once again, school choice has proven significant performance advantages, in math and reading, for Wisconsin students. What’s more, is that the use of taxpayer dollars for these options give more bang for buck. WILL knows that the fight against school choice is far from over. This report highlights the need to continue to inform and defend educational opportunities for all.”

When families have the freedom to choose, they can seek out educational environments that not only meet the academic needs of their children but also align with their values and learning styles. This is especially important as woke indoctrination permeates our school and harms our children. Educational freedom also leads to more engaged and motivated students, which ultimately results in better educational outcomes.

Further, school choice provides equity in education. It breaks down the barriers of zip-code-determined schooling, offering quality educational opportunities to students regardless of their location or background. By allowing funds to follow the student, it creates a more level playing field.

Therefore, parents should take advantage of the school choice programs we have in our state as much as possible. This year in Wisconsin, application windows will open in February for those seeking educational choices for their children other than the public school in their district.

For over thirty years, Wisconsin has been at the forefront of educational innovation with its school choice program (vouchers), providing low-income parents the opportunity to select the best educational environment for their children, which includes both secular and religious private schools. WILL’s Apples to Apples report serves as a crucial reminder that we not only need to keep it that way but continue to find new ways to afford Wisconsin families as much educational freedom as possible. Implementing universal choice in Wisconsin could be a great next step in solidifying our state as a beacon of educational freedom. 

The good news is that we are approaching a critical election cycle. Every Wisconsin voter can play a role in protecting and advancing school choice by electing leaders this fall who boldly advocate for parents’ rights in education. 

Every parent should have the opportunity to choose the best school for their child, regardless of their income, zip code, or the size of their school district. Education shapes not only the present but also the future and expanding school choice is a step towards a brighter future for The Badger State.

School Choice Is Under Fire In Wisconsin

School Choice Is Under Fire In Wisconsin

For over thirty years, Wisconsin has been at the forefront of educational innovation with its school choice program, providing low-income parents the opportunity to select the best educational environment for their children, which includes both secular and religious private schools.

Our Parental Choice Program began in 1990 with just the City of Milwaukee, but has expanded to include Milwaukee County, and under the Walker administration, a Racine choice program and a statewide choice program were launched. Currently, about 52,000 students are enrolled in private schools using a state-issued voucher.

As of last week, this successful program is facing a challenge in the form of a lawsuit filed by the Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC, a leftist group publicly stating it is out to destroy Wisconsin’s choice program. This lawsuit was filed directly to the state Supreme Court and asks the court to shut down the choice program before the 2024-2025 school year. It is disheartening to witness such a baseless, politically motivated attack on a program that has empowered families and improved educational outcomes for tens of thousands of children.

The essence of the lawsuit revolves around the claim that the school choice program diverts funds from public schools, crippling their ability to provide quality education, which is a fundamentally flawed assertion. Currently, statewide public school districts receive, on average, almost $15,000 per student of taxpayer money. Even with the increase in vouchers that the governor signed into law in the new budget, vouchers for K-8 students are just 64% of that amount, while vouchers for high school students are now 81% of the public school per-student cost. What this means is the voucher programs are saving taxpayers money.

Importantly, recent research done by School Choice Wisconsin shows that the choice programs are giving taxpayers a very good return, with voucher students consistently outperforming their public school peers on core subjects such as reading and math, as well as on standardized tests such as the ACT and the state’s Knowledge and Concepts Exam.

This lawsuit fails to acknowledge the diverse needs of Wisconsin’s students. Every child is unique, with individual learning styles, interests, and aspirations. Additionally, families differ in their values. Many families today, especially Christians, are realizing public schools are foisting values on their children that are antithetical to their family values. A one-size-fits-all approach to education simply does not suffice. School choice ensures that parents can tailor their child’s education to match what they want for their children, fostering an environment where students can thrive academically and personally, and also for many, spiritually.

While the lawsuit does not directly raise concerns about the participation of religious schools in Wisconsin’s school choice program, it is important to know that this issue was settled by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1998 in a case that challenged the original Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. The high court determined including religious private schools in the choice program did not violate either the US Constitution’s First Amendment or Wisconsin’s constitution. Subsequent and quite recent US Supreme Court decisions have also upheld the inclusion of religious private schools in such programs.

The bottom line is we have people in our state who despise the choice program; they have tried to discredit it and undo it for years. Now, with our state Supreme Court leaning liberal, they believe the time is right to aggressively use the courts to accomplish their goal. Fortunately, Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty is ready to fully defend this educational option on behalf of the tens of thousands of students and families who are flourishing because of this program. We call on Christians to pray for the justices and their decision and for the attorneys who will be involved with this high-stakes case.

Parent Sues WI School District After Teacher Announces Gender “Transition”

Parent Sues WI School District After Teacher Announces Gender “Transition”

The Daily Wire reports that a Wisconsin school district is facing a lawsuit from a parent who claims that a teacher announced his gender “transition” to students, including those in elementary school, without notifying parents.

On Monday, Leah Buchman, a mother within the Eau Claire Area School District (ECASD), lodged a formal complaint accusing the district of violating open records law and neglecting to inform parents about the teacher’s gender transition announcement.

According to the complaint, on June 5th, all orchestra students at Northstar Middle School were required to meet in the orchestra room along with their orchestra teacher and school counselor, Jacob Puccio, and the district’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) director, Dang Yang. During this gathering, the middle school students were informed that their orchestra teacher, Mr. Puccio, would be undergoing a “gender transition.”

Further, music students at three elementary schools and one high school in the district were purportedly read a scripted statement regarding the teacher’s gender transition.

According to the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), the statement was curated by ECASD with the intention to “ensure that students received information in a particular way.” Additionally, WILL asserts that parents still remain unaware of the exact contents of what was read to the students and are seeking clarification on the specifics.

Buchman immediately requested a copy of the scripted statement but was denied access to it. An attorney representing the school district stated that the document could not be released at that time due to an ongoing investigation into whether any school employee had acted inappropriately during the June 5th announcement.

Following the school’s refusal to provide the statement, Buchman proceeded to file her lawsuit with the assistance of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL).

“All I am asking is for the school district to provide what was told to my children and their peers in the classroom. As a parent, it’s my responsibility to help my kids understand all that life throws their way, and I do not understand why it has taken the school district so long to update parents,” said Buchman.

“It’s ridiculous for a school district to refuse to produce a statement that was read out loud to dozens of minor students in several district classrooms. What was told to these kids should be readily accessible to parents,” said WILL attorney Cory Brewer.

Other Wisconsin schools have been under fire for undermining parents’ rights in an attempt to indoctrinate students with radical LGBTQ+ ideology. 

The Eau Claire Area School District (ECASD) was sued for hosting gender identity trainings that instruct teachers and school staff on how to hide students’ gender transitions from parents. America First Legal (AFL) and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) filed the lawsuit on behalf of several parents, arguing that the district’s policies violate their freedom of religion and their parental rights. 

Similarly, last  November a group of Wisconsin parents sued the Kettle Moraine School District (KMSD) for a policy that allows minor students to “transition genders” at school, even despite their parents’ objection.

In a third case, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit in 2020 in Dane County Circuit Court against the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) for its policies that allow children to change their gender identity at school without parental notice or consent. The policy also instructs district staff to hide information about students’ gender identity from parents.

Cases of Wisconsin schools violating parental rights have become far too common– and these are only the instances that have been reported. Hopefully, these lawsuits are successful and send a clear message to Wisconsin schools: teachers have no right to parent students or push a radical agenda without parents’ consent. 

WILL Demands Change After Man Showers Next to Girls in Wisconsin School

WILL Demands Change After Man Showers Next to Girls in Wisconsin School

In early March, four 9th grade girls at East High School (EHS) in the Sun Prairie Area School District (SPASD) used the shower area in their locker room after their physical-education class. Because transgender ideology has permeated Wisconsin schools, the girls experienced a grave violation of their privacy. Thankfully, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) is taking a stand for the victims and demanding answers

As the girls began to shower in their swimsuits after swim class, an 18-year-old male student entered the shower area and told the girls he was “trans.” Then, the male student fully undressed, completely exposing himself to these freshmen girls. 

Parents of the girls alerted the school district of the incident, but administrators failed to address the issue and provided a “completely inadequate” response, according to WILL. Under federal law, school administrators should have reported the incident to the Title IX coordinator right away. Then, the coordinator should have contacted the four girls and helped them file a complaint. However, no one contacted the girls or launched an investigation.

After several requests, the girls’ parents were finally able to meet with school administrators to discuss the incident over a month after it occurred. However, no one was able to provide answers to the parents’ questions. District staff simply referenced a “policy” that they claimed addresses this situation, but they did not identify, describe, or bring the policy to the meeting.

Several days later, the EHS principal sent a copy of a “Restroom and Locker Room Accessibility Guidance” policy to one of the parents, but according to WILL, there is no “indication that this policy has ever been in effect, was in effect on March 3, or was ever approved by the School Board.” 

Further, the guidance document allows males to use the girls’ locker room regardless of the comfort of female students. The guidance only says that if a male requests to use the women’s locker room, then school administrators will evaluate and respond to the request on a “case-by-case basis.” However, “What if there is no such request? Is permission to use the girls’ locker room required? Who evaluates whether access will be permitted? The policy does not answer these questions,” noted WILL in a letter to the district. 

WILL went on to ask administrators to implement policies that will immediately protect the privacy and safety of students, noting that the school violated Title IX.  

“Under the Title IX regulations, sex discrimination encompasses sexual harassment, which includes unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe that it effectively denies a person equal access to the education program. Here, four freshman girls taking a shower in their swimsuits in what is supposed to be a private and safe space, were exposed to the male genitals of a senior student against their will. Considering student development, high school being a relatively new environment for freshman girls, the power dynamics between not only a biological male and female but between a senior and a freshman, and student safety, the age difference of the students here is relevant,” reads the letter. 

WILL is also demanding that the district offer supportive measures to victims of sexual harassment, provide victims an opportunity to file a complaint, conduct investigations of such cases, re-train district staff, hold accountable the staff that failed to uphold students’ rights, and adjust district policies and guidance documents to protect students.

“School districts need to think through what loosening boundaries for single-sex spaces could mean for girls. Parents are understandably concerned about whether school districts—like the Sun Prairie Area School District—are doing everything required to protect girls in bathrooms and locker rooms,” said Libby Sobic, WILL Director of Education Policy. This incident is what inevitably happens when policy is rooted in ideology rather than reality, common sense, and the right to personal, bodily privacy. No student should have to fear sexual harassment while using a bathroom or locker room at school. 

Hopefully this case serves as yet another wake-up call for parents whose children are in a government school. If this happened in Sun Prairie (a “bedroom community” of Madison), it can happen in most any school in our state. From what we can tell, this young man was not dressed like a girl, he simply announced that he was “trans.” Students don’t have to do anything in most schools to “prove” they are “trans.” They just have to announce it. Parents, for the well-being of their children, need to know what the school’s policies are, how they are being enforced, and keep open and frequent communication with their children on this issue.

If WILL doesn’t get the right response from SPASD, we would assume they will sue the district, making this another poignant lesson for all Wisconsin schools. Special rights and protections for “trans” students cannot violate the fundamental rights of “non-trans” students, with girls being the most vulnerable in these situations.

U.S. House Passes Crucial “Parental Bill of Rights”

U.S. House Passes Crucial “Parental Bill of Rights”

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Parents Bill of Rights Act by a vote of 213-208 “to ensure the rights of parents are honored and protected in the Nation’s public schools,” according to the bill’s text.  Wisconsin’s six Republican representatives (Bryan Steil, Derrick Van Orden, Scott Fitzgerald, Glenn Grothman, Tom Tiffany, Mike Gallagher) voted in favor of the bill, while the two Democrats (Mark Pocan, Gwen Moore) voted against it.

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) urged his colleagues to vote for the bill, saying that it would empower parents to always remain aware of what their children are learning in school and how their taxpayer money is being spent.

“Once you are a parent, you will give your life for your child,” said McCarthy. “You have a right to get the basic information about your children’s education….the Parents Bill of Rights is an important step towards protecting children and dramatically strengthening the rights of parents.”

The Parents Bill of Rights outlines five key rights that all parents nationwide should have, including the right to know what’s being taught in schools and to see reading material, the right to be heard, the right to see a school’s budget and spending, the right to protect their child’s privacy, and the right to be updated on any violent activity at school. 

This is common sense legislation that would help protect children from activist teaching by empowering parents to be involved. 

This bill comes in response to the many school districts across the country, including a numbere in Wisconsin, that have been caught hiding or withholding pertinent information about students from their parents.

For example, last year the Eau Claire Area School District was sued for directing teachers and school staff to allow students to change their preferred pronouns, name, and “gender identity” without parental involvement.

Similarly, in November of 2021, the Kettle Moraine School District (KMSD) was sued for a policy that allows minor students to “transition genders” at school, even despite the parents’ objection. A hearing for this case is scheduled for April 19th, and a ruling is expected in the late spring or summer.

In a third case, the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) was sued for its policies that allow children to change their “gender identity” at school without parental notice or consent. The policy also instructs district staff to hide information about students’ “gender identity” from parents. This case is ongoing after the Wisconsin Supreme Court sent it back to the Dane County Circuit Court for further action.

Across the nation, there are at least 6,000 schools that allow or require teachers to hide students’ “gender identity” from parents. Clearly, a parental bill of rights is urgently needed. 

While the Wisconsin Constitution protects the “inherent right” of parents to “direct the upbringing and education of children under their control,” it’s clear that parental rights need more protection.  A relatively strong Parents’ Rights Bill passed in the Wisconsin legislature last session, but Governor Evers vetoed it. The Assembly author, Rep. Rick Gundrum (R-Slinger), has indicated an interest in introducing the bill again this session.

While legislation can certainly help, parents should never rely on it alone to keep their children safe from harmful ideologies. Parents should always remain deeply involved and keenly aware of what is going on in the classroom and during any meetings with school staff. For the sake of children’s safety and well-being, parents must be the primary decision-makers when it comes to their children’s upbringing, education, and mental health. 

It’s also crucial that parents make their voices heard during this year’s Supreme Court election on April 4th. The balance of our State Supreme Court is on the line, which is our last chance and our strongest defense against liberal policies that have resulted in gross violations of parental rights and put our children at great risk in public schools.

 

The CDC is promoting gender ideology in schools and Congress needs to take action

The CDC is promoting gender ideology in schools and Congress needs to take action

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a taxpayer-funded federal agency, is promoting a tool for “school and district staff who are interested in facilitating a more inclusive environment for LGBTQ students” on social media. 

The “LGBTQ Inclusivity in Schools: A Self-Assessment Tool” provides a general assessment for anyone to use and specific assessments for school staff. The purpose of the tool is to quickly gauge supposed inclusivity at one’s school and “enhance future work to support LGTBQ youth in schools.”

Some of the items from the assessment tool read as follows: 

  • “I cannot assume a student’s gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.”
  • “I use students’ chosen name(s) in all school environments, including abbreviations and pronouns.”
  • “I participate in my schools’ Gay Straight Alliance/Genders and Sexualities Alliance.
  • “The policy(s) in place allows students to use the bathroom/locker room which aligns to their chosen gender.”
  • “The technology policies allow student access to age-appropriate LGBTQ content and information (e.g., LGBTQ-specific media, public health and education organizations, and entertainment sites).”
  • “My classroom or learning space includes visual labels (e.g., rainbow flags, pink triangles, unisex bathroom signs) marking it as a safe space for LGBTQ students.”
  • “I attend training and professional development focused on creating safe and supportive environments for LGBTQ students.”
  • “During sexual health education lessons, I present information on all types of sex, not centering on penis/vagina penetrative sex.”
  • During sexual health education lessons, I describe anatomy and physiology separate from gender (e.g., “a body with a penis,” “a body with a vagina”).

Once they respond to each of these statements, users can score themselves and their school with an “A,” “B,” or “C.” If they receive a “C,” the tool says they should “commit to change.” 

The tool also offers a “collection of curated resources and tools to help schools enhance LGBTQ inclusive policies, programs, and practices.”

The CDC is meant to protect Americans from health, safety, and security threats; yet here it is promoting an unscientific political ideology that leads individuals—mostly minors—to believe lies about themselves and even seek harmful gender “transition” procedures that cause permanent damage. The agenda that the CDC is trying to advance causes serious physical, emotional and spiritual harm.

While indoctrination runs rampant in our schools, Congress needs to pass legislation to stop state governments from violating parents’ rights to protect their kids from radical gender theory. Thankfully, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) has introduced the Parental Right to Protect Act. This bill would protect parental rights by ensuring that parents are not penalized for protecting their children from gender ideology and “transition” procedures.     

Last session, the Wisconsin legislature passed a parental rights bill that included this type of protection for parents and their children. Unfortunately, Governor Evers promptly vetoed the bill. Legislators are talking about bringing the bill back this session.

Regardless of whether or not Congress or Governor Evers steps up to protect children, parents must become aware of what their children are being taught in school, take action, and have difficult conversations with their children about these topics. 

Here are a few resources parents can use to help guide conversations with their children:

Responding to the Transgender Issue: Parent Resource Guide by Minnesota Family Council, Family Policy Alliance, The Heritage Foundation, WOLF, and others

Talking To Your Kids About Transgender Issues by Focus on the Family

Transgender Movement, Understanding and Responding by Family Research Council

How to Talk to Your Kids About Gender by Gospel Coalition 

When Harry Became Sally by Ryan T. Anderson 

God and the Transgender Debate by Andrew T. Walker

Transgender: Christian Compassion, Convictions and Wisdom for Today’s Big Questions by Vaughan Roberts 

Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith by Rosaria Butterfield

WI Supreme Court hears parental rights case

WI Supreme Court hears parental rights case

The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Doe v. Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Tuesday. This is a critical parental rights case in which parents are rightfully challenging an absurd school policy that allows the school to majorly overstep its boundaries.  

The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) brought the case to the Dane County Circuit Court in 2020 after MMSD implemented policies allowing students to use a different gender identity at school by changing their name and pronouns without consent from their parents. The district even instructed employees to hide the information from parents. 

WILL argues that it is the right of parents to make healthcare decisions for their children, and gender confusion can significantly impact a child’s mental health. “Transitioning to a different gender identity is a significant psychotherapeutic intervention that requires parental notice or consent,” said WILL. MMSD is clearly violating parental rights by attempting to make this decision for them. 

Dane County Circuit Court Judge Frank Remington issued a partial injunction in 2020 that prevents the school district from “applying or enforcing any policy, guideline, or practice” that “allows or requires District staff to conceal information or to answer untruthfully in response to any question that parents ask about their child at school, including information about the name and pronouns being used to address their child at school.” 

This injunction is not enough, however. It still permits minors to “transition” at school without requiring schools to notify parents or ask for their consent. The parents challenging this rule also requested to remain anonymous, but Judge Remington partially denied this request.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is now deliberating on the case and will determine whether the parents can proceed anonymously and whether the partial injunction goes far enough. 

During oral arguments this past Tuesday (May 24), one of the attorneys for the school district struggled to admit parents have inherent rights regarding their children, saying that parents basically don’t have rights when it comes to the issue of their child’s gender identity at school. 

When discussing the need for anonymity for the parents, WILL attorney Luke Berg asserted that disclosing the names could result in bullying and even harm to the parents and their children. Attorneys for the district refuted that idea and asked that the names be released to all the attorneys and everyone in their 3 large law firms, contending that these individuals (amounting at least 1000 attorneys alone) would not leak the names. Justice Rebecca G. Bradley spoke up and said essentially that she disputed the district’s assertion, noting that one of the groups that had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case in support of the parents had their office firebombed after the leaked US Supreme Court draft opinion. Obviously, Justice Bradley was referring to us. (I was in the court room for the oral arguments.) 

This case has huge ramifications not just here in Wisconsin but nationwide since it’s the first case in the country dealing with this issue. It could either help enshrine parental rights or severely compromise them.

For the sake of children’s well-being, parents need to be their primary decision makers, especially when it comes to questions of healthcare. Reaffirming a child’s delusion can pose significant negative consequences to their psychological development. They need the protection of their parents.

Chief Justice Annette Ziegler indicated the court would issue a decision promptly, which means we should certainly have the court’s final decision no later than June or July. In the meantime, please pray that the court rules justly and upholds parental rights.

Even after public schools reopened, homeschooling numbers are up

Even after public schools reopened, homeschooling numbers are up

The coronavirus crisis has catalyzed a drastic surge in homeschooling as parents’ concerns grow about public education. 

While homeschooling numbers are slightly lower than last year’s record high, they are still significantly higher than pre-COVID-19 levels. During the 2020-2021 school year, the number of homeschooling students in the U.S. increased by 63%. Even though schools have re-opened, the majority of families that opted for homeschooling over remote learning have continued with it. 

The Wisconsin Policy Forum reported historic drops in enrollment for public and private schools in Wisconsin. Nearly 31,900 students were homeschooled during the 2020-21 school year, which is a 47% increase from the previous year. 

Private school enrollment took less of a hit than public school enrollment, but still saw the greatest decrease since 2013. 

Virtual charter schools also attracted new Wisconsin families, as enrollment increased by 84% from last year. 

In Milwaukee, public school enrollment decreased by 4.2% and 151 students switched to homeschooling. 

Parents have attributed their decision to homeschool to philosophical differences with their schools, Covid restrictions, and concerns about the quality of education. Generally, children arebetter off learning vital skills and values from their parents than being propagandized from activist teachers. 

With so much corruption happening in public schools, homeschooling acts as a beacon of hope. Children benefit greatly, especially mentally and spiritually, when they are primarily guided by their parents rather than the anti-Christian culture that is overrunning schools. 

Thankfully, Wisconsin is leading the country in school choice, and it offers homeschooling parents plenty of freedom to direct their children’s education. The homeschool law was passed in 1983 and hasn’t been changed since then, making it one of the best homeschool laws in the country.

The Academy of Excellence Online (AoE) provides an excellent homeschooling opportunity for families in Wisconsin – it is a virtual program available for Wisconsin parents interested in homeschooling and also is part of the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (“the voucher program”).. The deadline for applying is April 21st! AoE also has brick-and-mortar Christian schools in Milwaukee that also participate in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.

Homeschooling is an excellent option for parents who want to protect their children from radical indoctrination. It provides parents the opportunity to train their children for the ideological battle being waged against them. Children need to learn how to recognize and combat the lies they are being fed, meaning all parents must engage in some form of education at home. The very best defense for children is parents being on offense!

This transition away from public school is a necessary and exciting change. Let’s keep the momentum going in Wisconsin and continue to vouch for homeschooling and school choice in order to protect children and parents’ rights. Hopefully next legislative session we can expand educational freedom in Wisconsin. 

National School Choice Week – WI continues to lead

January 23-29 marks National School Choice week, “the world’s largest celebration of opportunity in education,” according to National School Choice Week (NSCW). Hundreds of schools will spend the week celebrating choice in education. Wisconsin is one of the nation’s leaders in school choice – but we need to work to keep it that way.

Defending school choice in our state is vital to both Wisconsin families and the nation at large. Many public schools have become corrupt and untrustworthy as Critical Race Theory infiltrates the classroom, stories emerge of activist teaching, and some schools shut down due to COVID again and again. Further, many teachers do not respect parental rights and even hide information from parents. Many parents are eager to pull their children out of public school and look for alternative options.

NSCW recently conducted a survey showing that parents are unhappy with the schools that their children currently attend. More than half of parents said they had considered or are considering alternative schooling options for their children. Further, 84.7% agreed that parents must be able to send their children to the schools that best meet their needs, including “traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, online public schools, private schools, and homeschooling.”

Happily, in Wisconsin, parents have reasonable options for the education of their children. Within the public school world, parents can choose the school in the district where they live, or they can opt for open enrollment and enroll in a school in a different district, with some exceptions. Still under the public school umbrella are charter schools and virtual charter schools.

Moving from public schools to private schools, Wisconsin offers the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, the Racine Parental Choice Program and the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program—all of which are part of what most people call the “voucher school” option. These programs allow income-qualified families to send their children to private schools participating in Choice (voucher) Programs. Parents can apply to be part of a school choice program. Registration begins in February for Wisconsin’s Choice Programs. Of particular note is that at least one school in the Choice Program, Academy of Excellent, now offers a virtual option for parents that qualify for the vouchers.

Wisconsin also has some of the best homeschooling laws in the country. Parents are encouraged to homeschool and are not burdened by overbearing restrictions as they are in some states.

While Wisconsin is leading the nation in educational opportunities, we have more to do. We need universal choice in Wisconsin. Incomes and zip codes should not determine who gets to take advantage of our educational options. Our current governor is no fan of school choice, believing the only good school is a public school. Until we change our governor, we won’t have any expansion in school choice.

This is an issue that should concern more than just parents, but our entire community. Education holds immense power. It shapes our children, thereby molding the future of our country. In many schools across the country, however, the responsibility of educating our children has been put in the wrong hands. Ultimately, it is the parents’ right and duty to educate their children. It’s also a God-given responsibility; we must be vigilant stewards of our children and their education. Wisconsin Family Action will continue to champion school choice to ensure that should one educational option fail a child, his or her parents can responsibly choose another schooling option.

NSCW’s website offers a variety of resources that teachers, parents, and organizations can use to promote and support school choice. SchoolChoiceWi.org is also a fantastic resource for parents in Wisconsin exploring alternative schooling options.

We encourage everyone to use this week as an opportunity to share this important information about school choice in Wisconsin with your family and friends, and let’s resolve to be even better stewards of our children’s and grandchildren’s education.

Parents Have Every Right To Be Mad

Parents have faced disgraceful backlash from our own government leaders for doing their duty and standing up for their children. Last year, the NSBA likened parents to “domestic terrorists” after they spoke out against problems like Critical Race Theory (CRT) infiltrating schools. While the NSBA’s letter was alarming by itself, a newly released email reveals that Education Secretary Miguel Cardona actually solicited this letter from the NSBA. Many parents are now doubly disturbed – and rightfully so.

Parents have awakened to the corruption in our education system, and they are fighting back. Progressive activism in the Badger State is being countered by rational parents who are just sticking up for their kids.

Kylee Zempel, writing for The Federalist, reported earlier this week on a recent town hall meeting in Wisconsin attended by many upset parents. Topics discussed included Critical Race Theory (CRT), leftist teaching, school closures, and mask mandates. The meeting was organized by Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who is running against Democrat Gov. Tony Evers this fall. Kleefisch told those in attendance that they must become activists and combat the liberal insanity that is controlling our schools and influencing our children.

Many parents have painfully watched their children suffer while their schools refused to do in-person instruction for long periods of time. Students had a horrible year academically in 2020-21. Many struggled with virtual learning and fell behind. They also suffered socially and emotionally. Even after schools reopened, many healthy students were required to stay home and quarantine for up to ten days after being exposed, often without any at-home instruction. These lockdowns and quarantines ultimately did more harm than good, and now parents are fed up.

After watching their children’s GPA plummet during the lockdowns, some parents have decided to remove their children from the public school system entirely. Couple this with parents being upset by finding inappropriate materials in both physical and digital school libraries, boys being allowed in the girls’ bathrooms, and ideas such as CRT being taught, and you have parents looking for alternatives and making decisions to make a difference in their own school districts.

Here are three things you can do to make a difference in all this.

1. Get involved in the elections. Our spring nonpartisan elections are right around the corner. The primary is February 15 and the general April 5. This is when we elect school board members. Find out who the conservative candidates are in your district. Help them get elected. Call and find out what they need, and then step up and get busy. Encourage others to join you. Build an effective local army!

By Tuesday, January 25, you can find out who is on your ballot HERE. But don’t wait that long. Check with your municipal clerk right away. Check with friends and neighbors who stay up on local politics. Because these elections are typically low-voter-turnout elections, even just a little help can put a candidate over the finish line. Be part of the solution in your own backyard!

2. Consider educational options. The window for applying for and registering for one of our state’s educational options opens in February. If you have children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews in schools that are failing in any way, consider the options carefully, including vouchers, home-schooling and more. . You can find information about all the options, along with application materials and deadlines, HERE.

3. Pray for wisdom. Ask God what He wants you to do to make a difference. Pray for the good candidates running. Pray for the protection of students.

Parents and concerned citizens have a right to be angry about what has happened and is continuing to happen to our children in government schools. But that anger needs to be channeled and needs to be productive. Now is the time to make a real and a positive difference—for the children.

Wisconsin Family Action stands ready to help in any way we can. Call us at 888-378-7395 or email us at info@wifamilyaction.org.