The Weekend Wall Street Journal (subscription required) focuses once again on the saga of Milwaukee’s refusal to sell a vacant school building to a thriving private school. The editorial comes just days after  EAG released this short documentary on what it called Milwaukee’s “Protection Racket.”
Writes the WSJ:
The longest line in the U.S. isn’t outside a Super Bowl stadium. It’s black parents lining up for a chance to get their kids into a charter school or a school choice program. The lines form in places as varied as New York City, New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and Milwaukee. Only one thing is guaranteed: opposition, whether it’s New York’s new “progressive” mayor Bill de Blasio or the Justice Department leaning on Louisiana’s voucher program. Today we’ll visit Milwaukee.
St. Marcus Lutheran, one of Milwaukee’s successful independent schools, tried to buy a vacant former public school on the city’s north side. The public school system said—get lost.
As we’ve written before, St. Marcus is an urban success story. It’s student population  is 90% black and 89% low income. According to the school: St. Marcus alumni have a 91 percent graduation rate from high school in four years, while another 6 percent graduate from either a GED program or alternative high school. This compares with an MPS graduation rate of just 62% and a statewide rate of 87%.
But, as the WSJ recounts, public school officials have moved aggressively to block the expansion of St. Marcus. St. Marcus offered $1.25 million for the vacant Malcolm X school building, which had sat vacant and unused for six years. In addition, the private school pledged spending $5-7 million on improvements to the building.
But rather than accept the offer that would have expanded a successful school, the public school district opted to sell the building to developers at a loss.
The school system agreed to sell the building to developer 2760 Holdings for just over $2 million. The developer plans to demolish half the structure for a housing and retail space, while the school would lease back the other half for its own plan to create a school at a cost of $4 million over four years. In October, Milwaukee County Court Commissioner Serena Pollack wrote a letter to Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm and others, asking that they investigate a transaction that appeared both “fraudulent” and a loss to taxpayers.
But beyond the sweet and possibly corrupt deal, lies the larger strategy of Milwaukee’s public school system: blocking choice and charter schools from being able to use vacant school buildings. MPS has gone so far as to attach deed restrictions, explcitly barring any future sales for what it calls “competing use.”
Public school board President Michael Bonds said in 2011 that letting private education success stories flourish would be like “asking the Coca-Cola company to turn over its facilities to Pepsi.”
He flatters himself. Unlike the soda wars, the education battle in Wisconsin is between a failing union monopoly and schools that are actually educating children. If the Milwaukee public schools think that preferential real-estate regulations are the definition of competition, it’s no wonder they’re failing the kids.

This, apparently, passes for “progressivism” these days.