Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Putting Politics Aside for Wisconsin Students: Representative Jason Fields (D)

Fields speaks during the 2012 Black Alliance for Educational Options
Symposium, at a lunch hosted by the American Federation for Children.
“The focus of our debate needs to be on improving educational quality - in our public schools and in our private schools. My hope in supporting the choice program has always been that families will one day be able to choose between several quality choice schools as well as high-quality public schools.”

The past year has seen Wisconsin become the nation’s hot spot for partisan fighting, with protests in the state house and harsh words and recall threats from both sides of the aisle.  But a few legislators have been able to stay above the fray. One of them is Representative Jason Fields, a Democrat in the Assembly whose district encompasses most of Milwaukee. He's crossing traditional party lines to stand up for children and build a strong bipartisan coalition in support of school choice.

“Improving quality needs to be the focus of our efforts to reform education in the state of Wisconsin…by increasing the standards we set for the institutions charged with the important responsibility of educating our children.”

Fields is a Milwaukee native and a graduate of Milwaukee Lutheran High School.  A former stock broker, financial advisor, and banker, he was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 2004 and is serving his fourth term in office. Representing Milwaukee, Fields has stood up for multiple school choice initiatives, supporting both the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (which benefits many of the families living in his district) and the Wisconsin Special Needs Act, which is currently moving through the state legislature.

A lifelong Democrat, he has no problem putting politics aside and working with Republicans to ensure that Wisconsin children have the best educational options:
“I am extremely pleased and honored to have been able to develop and promote these important [school choice bills],” said Fields after successfully passing legislation to expand the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.  “I’d like to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their contributions and support; I hope we can continue to work together in creating good policies and improving state programs.”
Fields made news when, in the spring of 2011, he gave an impassioned speech on the Assembly floor, calling out his colleagues from both parties for not supporting a provision that would remove the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program’s arbitrary student enrollment cap.

He criticized Democrats for their failure to support a program that demonstrates positive results, and reminded Republicans that the city's children also need their support on other issues of social justice.

Thankfully, the biennial state budget, signed into law by Governor Walker on June 26, 2011, included a vast expansion of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.  This historic expansion included removing the cap on the number of student participants, permitting schools across the state to accept program participants, expanding the program to benefit children from middle-class families, and -- thanks to Fields' hard wok -- ensuring that participating families remain in the program regardless of future income growth.

In a state often roiled in political battles, we're glad to see one legislator putting all of that aside in order to stand for students and school choice:

“So much of the discourse surrounding school choice takes away from the conversations we should be having about improving educational quality. I support the choice program to the extent that it gives low-income families in Milwaukee more options. For the kids I know and the kids I have taken into my home, these additional options can be the difference between going to jail or planning for college.”

 - American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MSG

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    Thank. It makes me feel great when I read all these stories. It helps me from hopelessness and make me more stronger to fly… thank… for everything.

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