FILE - From left, Rebecca Kleefisch, Tim Michels and Timothy Ramthun (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)
FILE - From left, Rebecca Kleefisch, Tim Michels and Timothy Ramthun (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

The leading contenders for the Republican nomination for Governor in this year’s election faced off in a televised debate for the first time on July 24th. Moderators Charles Benson and Shannon Sims peppered former Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, businessman Tim Michels, and State Representative Tim Ramthun with questions on a range of topics over the course of an hour.

During a discussion on education each candidate bemoaned the state of public schools in Wisconsin – apparently having missed reporting that the state’s K-12 schools are back in the top 10 nationally under Democratic Governor Tony Evers.

Despite that progress, the Republican candidates highlighted their support for a proposal that would defund public education in Wisconsin.

“I want to give parents more control, and the way you do that is through universal school choice,” said Trump-endorsed Michels. “It empowers parents. The tuition dollars go to the parent, and they can attach that to the son or daughter and go to the school of their choice.”

‘Universal school choice’ actually means lifting the enrollment caps for the state’s school voucher program, the expansion of which has the impact of subsidizing private school tuition at the expense of public schools.

Since Republicans expanded the ‘choice’ program statewide, Wisconsin has in essence been funding two entirely separate school systems with taxpayer dollars.

Lifting the existing caps on the voucher program, as Kleefisch, MIchels, and Ramthun all support, would sap Wisconsin’s Top 10 K-12 public schools of resources.

Put another way, their education proposal is nothing more than an attempt to defund our public schools.