School Choice

GMAR’s Position on School Choice

Members of the Greater Milwaukee Association of REALTORS® sell and market more than individual homes, land or businesses; they also sell a quality of life. This quality of life extends beyond the legal boundaries of a property. To customers and clients, as well as other members of the public, the community where a property is located is as important as the property itself.

In recognizing the importance of the quality of life that is inextricably related to property, it is in the Association’s interest to influence activities and organizations which impact the quality of life associated with property, at its discretion. Examples of GMAR activity in this capacity include advocacy on lead-based paint issues, land use proposals and property tax debates.

The quality of schools is a significant component of the quality of life associated with property. In fact, the quality of schools is often the primary factor in the decision by families, and even businesses, on where to purchase property. With this knowledge, the linkage between real property and the quality of schools must also be of significant concern to REALTORS®, because the quality of schools is directly related to the ability of REALTORS® to conduct their business.

In general, the image of schools in the metropolitan Milwaukee area is highly regarded, with one exception. That exception is the Milwaukee Public School system (MPS). MPS has schools that span the quality spectrum – some excellent, others struggling; whereas in most suburban communities whole school systems are rated highly.

In the late 1990’s, there was a movement within the City of Milwaukee and MPS School Board to improve the quality of public education and public schools – and, by extension, quality of life – through the introduction of competition in the form of school choice. In broad terms school choice implies offering parents the choice of where to send their children to school, reasoning that parents will send their children to the best schools (whether they are public, private, sectarian, or charter) irrespective of where their home is located.

The Greater Milwaukee Association of REALTORS® recognizes that unless and until Milwaukee public schools are substantially improved, the metropolitan area will not realize its full potential – either in terms of economic development or quality of life. Therefore, the GMAR strongly condemns efforts to maintain the educational status quo in the Milwaukee public school system and instead supports all changes necessary to effectively reform MPS and create a world class metropolitan education system.

In 1999, the GMAR adopted a policy supporting school choice on the basis that REALTORS® sell the quality of life associated with a given property, and the quality of schools are a significant component of the quality of life. School choice entails offering parents the opportunity to send their child(ren) to private, charter or MPS schools.

The GMAR supports the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program because we believe the alternative it offers has helped many poor students who attend the Milwaukee Public Choice Program schools as well as spurred the Milwaukee Public School System into making reforms that have helped public school students. At the same time we are very concerned with the cost of public education in general, the MPCP program and MPS alike.