When it becomes successful in their own backyards, even die-hard liberals support school choice. “I support [means-tested, not universal] vouchers, I support homeschooling, I support charter schools, I support changes in the traditional system, [and] I support virtual schools,” Dr. Howard Fuller, author of No Struggle, No Progress and former Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent, said recently at an international educational summit in Austin, Texas. “For me it’s about providing low-income and working-class parents with the capacity to choose” among various schooling alternatives.
While acknowledging that “[e]very public policy has an upside and a downside,” Fuller believes “the upside of giving low-income and working-class people options outweighs some of the other issues.” In the 1960s Fuller was a civil rights activist. Although he is an admirer of Malcolm X and Barack Obama, Dr. Fuller claims to be neither a Democrat nor a Republican.
“Poor people, a disproportionate amount of them are black or brown, are suffering in America because of [education] policies,” Dr. Fuller said. He noted that “there’s so much hypocrisy in this country around providing people with parent choice [in education].”
Dr. Fuller has White House ties – just not to the incumbent administration. As an advisor to George W. Bush, he served on the committee that helped craft the forty-third president’s early education speeches. “Bush actually did a lot for education from where I sit,” said Fuller, “his support for choice, his support for charters” was welcomed. “Trust me; you all would like George Bush,” he added.
Fuller, a Distinguished Professor of Education and founder of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University, also represented the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO).