By Ben Velderman
MILWAUKEE – The founder of a Milwaukee school that takes advantage of a state voucher program hosted a pre-recall election rally Sunday.
But the main speakers at the rally were high-profile opponents of Milwaukee’s large and successful school voucher program.
Bishop Darrell Hines, founder of the Destiny High School, sat silently as Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association President Bob Peterson took the podium and launched into an anti-school choice screed.
Students deserve music lessons, physical education, librarians, and “educators who stay with the school district,” Peterson told the crowd, implying that voucher schools are the reason public schools are laying off teachers.
“ … Milwaukee Public Schools in the only educational institution that has the capacity, the commitment and the legal obligation to serve the needs of all children in this state,” Peterson shouted to the sparse crowd, according to a video from the MacIver Institute.
Hines, who seems to have been caught off-guard by Peterson’s attack, offered no defense of his independent Christian high school or the city’s school choice voucher program that enables it to exist.
Instead, Hines took the stage to join hands with the night’s speakers, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Jackson, like Peterson, is no friend of vouchers. But he is a vocal supporter of the radical Chicago Teachers Union, which has resisted efforts to give students better instruction through an extended school day. The CTU is also on the verge of approving a teachers’ strike – triggered by the union’s demands for an absurdly high pay increase of 30 percent –that will be highly disruptive to their students’ education. Why Hines opened his school to either Jackson or Peterson is extremely puzzling.
Hines should have pointed out that if Milwaukee schools are without art and music teachers, it’s because Peterson’s union has repeatedly refused to accept contract concessions that would have prevented mass teacher layoffs.
Hines could have also reminded Peterson that 37 percent of MPS students never reach graduation, which contradicts Peterson’s claims the district has the “capacity” and “commitment” to effectively educate children.
Instead, Hines chose to show solidarity with the very people who want to put his school out of business, and return his students to the failure factory that is Milwaukee Public Schools.
Politics may make for strange bedfellows, but Hines’ alliance with Peterson defies any kind of understanding.