Monday, November 17, 2003

Real neighborhood schools

People sometimes find it hard to imagine how schools might look under a competitive system. One specific neighborhood in Milwaukee offers a glimpse of the real choices available to parents and their kids when a single provider no longer has a monopoly over local education dollars.

Hickenlooper said he was impressed by a unique partnership he saw among schools in the largely black community of Garden Homes.

The private Lutheran school there also houses the Garden Homes Montessori School, a public "contract" school similar to a charter school. Across the street is the neighborhood public school, Garden Homes Community School.

Officials of all three schools advertise their options in one brochure given to neighborhood families.

Garden Homes Lutheran School Pastor E. Allen Sorum said the partnership came together because families were sending their children to schools outside Garden Homes. A church survey asked families what they wanted for their children. Some said Montessori; others wanted a Christian education but couldn't afford it.

The church then worked with Milwaukee Public Schools to add a Montessori program and vouchers to help families pay tuition at the Lutheran school.

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