State Journal: Holding on choice; No grudge; ‘Disaster’ decried

February 21, 1990 1 min read

Conspicuously absent from Gov. Tommy G. Thompson’s State of the State speech to Wisconsin lawmakers last month was any reference to his controversial version of school choice.

In both 1988 and 1989, Mr. Thompson put forward plans under which children from low-income families in Milwaukee could have used state funding to attend any school in the county.

The proposal would have gone beyond other choice programs by allowing students to use state funds at private schools.

In its original incarnation, the plan would have covered church-related schools, but was later scaled back to include only nonsectarian institutions.

In the legislature, meanwhile, the open-enrollment issue is dead for the session, according to a lobbyist for the Milwaukee school system, which put forward its own proposal on the subject last year.

Still, the Governor has not given up on choice, according to a spokesman, who explained that he did not mention the topic in his annual address for fear of interfering with the work of a commission he appointed late last year to make recommendations for the schools.

Gov. Wallace G. Wilkinson of Kentucky used his recent State of the Commonwealth Address to denounce a report by the CBS television program “48 Hours” on poverty in his state.

Mr. Wilkinson was particularly critical of Laurence A. Tisch, chairman of CBS Inc. He noted that New York City, where the network is based, “has a few cases of poverty and substance abuse and ignorance and crime of its own.”

To show his dedication to education, the Governor also read a letter from a 4th-grade student and promised to visit her school with other state officials.

Not being one to hold a grudge, he invited Mr. Tisch to come along as well.

John R. Silber has continued his blunt-spoken drive for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Massachusetts by denouncing his state’s educational system as “a disaster.”

Mr. Silber, currently on leave as president of Boston University, also told a business group that a high-school diploma from a state school is a “fraudulent document.”

Boston students’ problems reflect “certifiable incompetence by the school committee,” added the candidate, who led the university’s takeover of the management of the nearby Chelsea school system.--dv & hd

A version of this article appeared in the February 21, 1990 edition of Education Week as State Journal: Holding on choice; No grudge; ‘Disaster’ decried