As the reputation and fortunes of the corporate reform movement sag, its allies are redoubling their efforts to spread charters and vouchers, as we have seen in recent attacks on public education in Florida, Texas, and elsewhere.

Jeff Bryant writes here about the successful resistance to privatization in Milwaukee, which has had vouchers and charters for decades, with nothing to show for it but three low-performing sectors.

He writes:

Despite the decades-long effort to privatize Milwaukee’s local school, recent events in that community have revealed how public school advocates can successfully fight back against the forces of privatization.

In Milwaukee’s recent school board election, a slate of five candidates swept into officeunder a banner of turning back years of efforts to privatize the district’s schools. The win for public schools was noteworthy not only because it took place in a long-standing bastion of school choice, but also because the winning candidates were backed by an emerging coalition that adopted a bold, new politics that demands candidates take up a full-throated opposition to school privatization rather than cater to the middle.

Unsurprisingly, the coalition includes the local teachers’ union, who’ve long been skeptical of charters, vouchers, and other privatization ideas, but joining the teachers in their win are progressive activists, including the Wisconsin chapter of the Working Families Party, and local civil rights advocacy groups, including Black Leaders Organizing for Communities and Voces de la Frontera.

Unifying this diverse coalition was an uncompromising political argument about what makes public schools truly public and why that distinction matters.