Legislator sparked a revolution in education unrivaled since Brown v. Board of education
After 30 years in the Wisconsin State Assembly–the longest tenure of any woman in the state legislature–State Representative Annette Polly Williams will step down at the end of her term on December 31.
We salute the lawmaker for her many, many years of service to the community she grew up in and loves with the fierce love of a mother for her children.
Not only has she loved her community, Rep. Williams fought for it with equal furiosity and courage, especially in the area of education.
Williams is the author of landmark 1990 legislation that created Parental School Choice, a voucher program that allowed state tax dollars to be used to enable students from low-income homes to attend private schools.
Regardless of how you feel about the program, you must admit it was revolutionary and challenged the educational status quo in a manner reminiscent of the historic Brown vs. Board of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court over a half century ago.
“Polly’s revolution” was copied by several other cities around the country, and sparked the creation of unique initiatives such as charter schools, and fostered heated debates over the state of education from both a racial and class perspective.
In recent years, she has turned her focus to education reform within the Milwaukee Public Schools, Williams’ long-time nemesis during her fight for Parental School Choice.
If you think this esteemed legislator will simply rest on her laurels and play with her grandchildren and great-grand children, wipe that thought out of your mind. True to form, the feisty lawmaker plans to keep herself busy by working on behalf of her community, pledging to support and help the incoming MPS Superintendent Dr. Gregory Thornton as he prepares to take on the challenges and issues of the state’s largest school district. We can’t think of a better ally for Dr. Thornton to have than Williams. We sincerely hope he heeds her advice and counsel.
Thank you Polly for your uncompromising stance on issues great and small; for standing up for the community and your constituents with unshakable faith and conviction.
Your wisdom and principles that put the people first will be missed, but not forgotten.