At an event held in his support, I approached Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the Democrat nominee for the June 5 recall election against Gov. Scott Walker, asking him a question he manifestly could not wait to be asked.
Invoking his tenure as a U.S. Congressman, whereupon he voted in support of legislation preventing school choice for low-income families that otherwise could not afford to send their children to high-performing private schools, I asked how he reconciled this with his decision to send his own children to private schools that happen to participate in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.
Barrett immediately began retreating, exclaiming “I look forward to working with you as Governor.” I was, of course, flattered that he looks forward to “working with” me (whatever that meant), but my question remained unanswered: Why, as a proponent of “quality K-12 education Milwaukee’s children,” did he not want to work with poor families stuck with the status quo of underperforming public schools during his congressional tenure?
Barrett’s handlers demanded to know, “Who are you with?” I failed to understand how precisely whom I’m with rescinds the fact that as congressman in 1997 and 1998, Barrett voted in favor of House Bills 2746 -- which would provide “scholarships, or vouchers, to low-income families to send their children to private schools, including religious schools,” -- and 4380, which would have “created a nonprofit corporation to administer vouchers for low-income children in the District of Columbia.”
Barrett’s choice for his own children has a graduation rate 18 percent higher than that of the Milwaukee Public School system which he would rather less privileged families in his city not to have the choice to enjoy. Ironically, as mayor of Milwaukee, 59 percent of his own local constituentsfavor the choice program, while merely 29 percent oppose it. On an optimistic note, cake was served at the Barrett event we attended, so we’re hoping he saved leftovers for said constituents.
Perhaps had the legislation applied exclusively to his own children, at least two of whom he has enrolled in Pious XI for which the tuition costs exceed $9,000 per year, it may have warranted his vote.
Later in the day, crewing up with Kelly Maher of Revealing Politics Joe Schoffstall of Media Research Center and Jeremy Segal of Rebel Pundit, I attended a Milwaukee event headlined by Rev. Jesse Jackson. Prior to Jackson’s exit from the event, his Escalade driver snapped pictures of us, whereupon we of course showcased our most photogenic smiles. Jackson, having apparently been briefed by phone about our presence, shook my hand and politely declined my initial interview attempt en route to the Escalade.
Once he was in the car, I approached and asked how, as a long-time advocate for the lower class, he felt about Barrett’s opposition to school choice for lower income families. His face became as stiff as his driver’s then foothold on the gas pedal.
We respectfully dare the Wisconsin recall proponents to perpetuate their class warfare rhetoric regarding “income inequality" and the plight of the lower class at the alleged hands of the Walker administration. Hopefully for their sake, the public won't learn further who the real class warriors are by Tuesday.