Lehman Needs to Apologize for Mischaracterizing Racine School Choice Program

Brian Pleva, Wisconsin Government Affairs Associate with the American Federation For Children, writes a letter to the editor saying that Sen. John Lehman didn't characterize the Racine School Choice Program accurately and they want him to apologize.

Former State Senator John Lehman should apologize to Racine families for his misleading statements on the Racine Parental Choice Program (RPCP), the school choice program that allows students from low-income and working class families to attend a participating private school of their parents’ choice.

While speaking last week at a 21st Senate District candidates’ forum, Lehman claimed that private schools participating in the program were for-profit and fly-by-night entities taking advantage of RPCP, according to the .  However, schools participating in the program are not-for-profit entities and some of the most respected schools in the city.  Nearly 230 scholarship students are being educated through RPCP schools in the current school year. And next year, even more families have applied to the limited 500 scholarships available in the second year of the program.

Lehman’s comments were extremely irresponsible, and he should apologize to both Racine families and the private schools for mischaracterizing the Racine Parental Choice Program.  The program is not only popular among Racine residents, but it offers an educational lifeline to students from low-income families.  Characterizing this program as a scheme that will hurt families is not true and diminishes the integrity of educational options for Racine families.

This is not the first time that Lehman failed to accurately portray educational options in Wisconsin.  He recently claimed a lack of high accountability standards and academic attainment levels of Wisconsin’s two voucher programs to the Wisconsin State Journal’s Recall Election Guide.  Lehman states that he wants to discontinue “funding charter and voucher schools, which are unaccountable to the taxpayer and continually underperforming compared to public schools.”

John Lehman has now incorrectly portrayed the quality schools participating in the Racine voucher program, and insinuated that our state’s two voucher programs lack accountability and academic achievement.  Both parental choice programs require high accountability standards, including standardized testing, public reporting of student progress, and proof of financial viability for schools.  In addition, independent evaluations have shown significant academic achievement in the Milwaukee program.

Created last year, the RPCP serves 228 students from low-income and working-class families living in the Racine Unified School District.  In the program’s second year, more than 500 applications have been received for the limited 500 seats available under the program.  The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program is serving more than 23,000 students this year.

Last year, my organization released a poll showing that 55 percent of likely voters within the Racine Unified School District favored school choice with just 33 percent opposing.  Further, participants rated the performance of Racine’s private schools higher than the assigned public schools.

John Lehman should apologize to these schools, and the students attending them, for his reckless accusations.


Brian Pleva

Wisconsin Government Affairs Associate

American Federation for Children

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Racine Progressive June 01, 2012 at 02:11 AM
We need to elect Lehman to get rid of the corrupt Walkerites like Wanggaard.
Racine Progressive June 01, 2012 at 02:15 AM
If you know Lehman, you know he's a good man that cares about the good people of Racine. Wanggaard is a hypocrite - he has enjoyed Union benefits but then agreed with Walker to divide and conquer.
James R Hoffa June 01, 2012 at 03:35 AM
@Racine Progressive - Spoken like a true 'progressive' all right - worry about the teachers getting paid first as opposed to the quality of education actually being provided. As I understand the situation, the administrator filled out the apps wrong, so the academy actually didn't get that much money from the state. Needless to say, there were no charges alleging that the quality of education being provided was poor, were there? And guess what - the beauty with a 'choice' school lies in the fact that if the school is failing, you don't have to send your child there, or if you already have, you can take them out! Can the same be said for RUSD's failing schools before the option of choice schools came along? In fact, before choice schools, the only alternative for a struggling family was home schooling. Let's get real, shall we?
James R Hoffa June 01, 2012 at 03:49 AM
Wait just a minute! Let's clarify this situation: Lehman - didn't even love his country enough to fight for it when called upon to do so. Instead, he ran to Canada, remember? Wanggaard - when in the union, he advocated for the union. Now that he's a senator, he's advocating for the taxpayer. It's called integrity of character RP - different jobs require wearing different pants. Van's action have shown that he is conducting himself both professionally and responsibly in being able to recognize the distinctions and act according to the demands of the situation in which he finds himself. But 'progressives' appear unable to comprehend this simple reality - WHY??? Private unions bargain with for profit entities. Public unions bargain with the government. The government is comprised of taxpayers. Public union members are also taxpayers. Thus public union members are actually bargaining against themselves. Isn't that an inherent conflict of interest? Also, aren't they already represented in their government employment via their duly elected public officials that are in charge of running the government that employs them? After all, public union members do get to vote for their public officials, the same as the rest of us, don't they? So why do they even need a union? Federal employees aren't unionized and I don't hear any complaints about how the federal government is abusing or taking advantage of them, do you? Wake up already from your 'progressive' stupor!!!
James R Hoffa June 01, 2012 at 03:54 AM
@Stormy - That's an alarming situation indeed. Unfortunately, given how the people of Racine voted in the recent school board election, I'm guessing that such facts will just fall upon deaf ears. A shameful situation all around. Lehman = Scum Bag in trying to recruit children to do his bidding!


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