The economist Milton Friedman came up with most of the bad ideas that have decimated our country's middle class, including free trade, trickle-down-economics and across the board gutting of regulations-- including the deregulation that caused the Great Recession. One of his particularly bad ideas, that hasn't yet come to fruition was to end public schools and make getting an education a private business endeavor similar to getting a hair cut or buying shoes.
In his manifesto, "Public Schools: Privatize Them," Friedman hatched a plan to end public schools: vouchers. Vouchers, he said, were "a means, not an end" to privatize public schools and that by draining resources and allowing public schools to wither on the vine, students would gradually be lured out of public schools and into the private sector, paid for with vouchers.
That, in a nut shell, is why progressives and anyone who wants to pass on to their children and grandchildren the tradition of truly public schools, abhor vouchers.
So, yesterday, when Mary Burke finally made a promise and told the Wisconsin State Journal that, although she opposed Walker's statewide expansion of vouchers, she nonetheless would do nothing to remove the statewide voucher program, jaws dropped throughout Wisconsin's progressive community:
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke said Monday she wouldn’t have expanded private school vouchers statewide, which Gov. Scott Walker did in this year’s state budget.
However, Burke said if elected she would keep the statewide program in place with a cap of 1,000 students and seek accountability for private schools receiving public funds in Milwaukee.
Burke's comments come on the heels of criticism last week from Madison Teachers' Union President John Mathews, who said he was disappointed with Burke's "very ambivalent" comments about voucher schools and said "she can't support voucher schools and public schools at the same time."
During Burke's 2012 race for Madison school board, she was often asked about vouchers because of her support of Madison Prep-- a proposed public school that many feared would be like a voucher school because it would have been funded with pubic money, but with a fraction of the public oversight of a traditional public school. Burke, however, stated repeatedly that she is opposed vouchers when existing pubic schools aren't properly funded.
Burke also told the Wisconsin State Journal that progressive critics, will eventually get on the Burke bandwagon, saying “They don’t know me and my positions, and that is what a campaign is all about.”
To date, Mary Burke is the only major Democratic candidate that has announced an intention to run for governor.