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Across the Divide: Where Is School Choice Headed Under President Trump?

Michelle Maternowski
Across the Divide event at Anodyne Coffee.

For years, state lawmakers have been expanding school choice throughout Wisconsin, allowing public dollars to follow kids to private schools. Now, the Trump administration is looking to expand voucher programs nationally.

WUWM and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel held a community conversation, titled  Across the Divide: Where is School Choice Header Under President Trump?, at Anodyne Coffee in Walker's Point on September 19 to bring together people with different perspectives on school choice.

WUWM's education reporter, Rachel Morello, and Erin Richards, an education reporter with the Journal Sentinel, moderated the conversation between students, education leaders and concern citizens.

Credit Michelle Maternowski
More from our Across the Divide conversation: The future of school choice, and what the rest of the country could learn from Milwaukee.

The panel included:

PATRICK CHATMAN — Patrick Chatman is entering his 30th year in Milwaukee Public Schools as the principal of Oliver Wendell Holmes School, located in the Harambee neighborhood. Pat has also been a paraprofessional assistant, special education teacher and assistant principal, and he worked at Auer Avenue, Pierce and Townsend Street schools before O.W. Holmes. Pat grew up in Milwaukee and graduated from MPS. His own children attended private and public schools and graduated from Riverside University High School.

Credit Michelle Maternowski / 1984
Student panelists Joycelyn Medley and Raven Goins.

RAVEN GOINS — Raven Goins is a senior at Milwaukee Lutheran High School, where she attends with the help of a tuition voucher. Raven went to Messmer Catholic Schools and St. Marcus Lutheran School and then Rufus King in MPS before she switched to Milwaukee Lutheran. Raven is in her fourth year of participating in Upward Bound, a college preparatory program aimed at students from families that are low-income or where neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree, at Marquette University. She aspires to be a dermatologist.

WILLIAM HUGHES – Bill Hughes is the chief academic officer of Seton Catholic Schools, a collaborative effort under the Milwaukee Archdiocese that aims to strengthen academics and business operations at participating Catholic elementary schools. Currently, 14 schools are participating. Bill was previously the director of leadership for the nonprofit school support organization Schools That Can Milwaukee. He also helped create a principal training and master’s degree program at Alverno College. Before that, Bill led the Greendale School District as superintendent for 16 years.

JOYCELYN MEDLEY – Joycelyn Medley is a senior at St. Joan Antida High School. She attended Urban Day School, a charter school, from fourth through seventh grade, a public school in Tennessee for eighth grade, and South Division High School in ninth grade before transferring to Saint Joan Antida, a Catholic all-girls high school located downtown. She is on the school’s volleyball team and maintains a part-time job. After graduating, she hopes to study psychology or another behavioral science within the University of Wisconsin System.

FABIOLA RAMIREZ – Fabiola Ramirez is a social studies teacher at Carmen High School of Science and Technology — Southeast campus, a charter school co-located inside Pulaski High School on the south side. A Carmen graduate herself, Fabiola is now teaching in the charter-school network as a second-year corps member of Teach for America. Fabiola received a full ride scholarship to Beloit College and graduated in 2016 with a double major in political science and education. She grew up in Milwaukee, where she attended both traditional public schools and charter schools.

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Michelle was named WUWM's digital manager in August of 2021.