For several hours on Wednesday morning, there was no acrimony, competition or animosity. Representatives from public, private and charter schools gathered at Milwaukee’s Grain Exchange, not to debate, but to celebrate diversity and educational options.
As part of the National School Choice Week Whistle Stop tour, over 300 students were on hand to display their respective talents and to thank their parents for making informed educational choices, whether that meant enrollment in public or private schools.
The event drew Republicans, Democrats and independents. On hand to share the podium were the governor, county executive, mayor and superintendent of Milwaukee public schools. There were as many Democrats in the audience as there were Republicans and given the make up of the audience, as many public school children as private school students.
Asked by a reporter why he was in attendance, MPS Superintendent Greg Thornton said it wasn’t about competition, but diversity. The public schools offer unique opportunities and services that few private or charter schools can match, he said. “We think we have an excellent product, one that is improving each day. I’m here to tout what I consider to be the best choice.”
The National School Choice Week Whistle Stop tour runs from January 27 to February 2 and will make stops in 14 states. Over 3,5000 events will be held during the week.
Coordinated by a diverse, non-partisan committee, the event highlights the benefits of parental choice in cities around the country.
“Milwaukee demonstrates to America that when students, parents, teachers and community leaders work together and put the interests of children first, anything is possible,” said Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week. “Our whistle-stop event will celebrate effective choices from all sectors of education: traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, virtual academies and homeschooling.”
National School Choice Week planned the event in cooperation with Great Schools, the Black Alliance For Educational Options, Democrats For Education Reform, Hispanics For School Choice, Milwaukee Charter School Advocates, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, Milwaukee Public Schools, School Choice Wisconsin, Schools That Can, the Wisconsin Charter Schools Association, K12, and the Association of American Educators.