Even though it was a very different organization — and a very different state — at the time, Wisconsin is the birthplace of the Republican party, which got its start at a schoolhouse in Ripon in 1854. To this day, Wisconsin continues to influence GOP policy nationwide, from Janesville Representative Paul Ryan’s ascendancy to Speaker of the House, to former Wisconsin GOP chair Reince Preibus’ appointment as President Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff.
Recently, another Wisconsin GOP initiative has taken center stage in Washington. Starting under former Governor Tommy Thompson, Wisconsin pioneered voucher programs that use taxpayer money to fund students attending private and religious schools. President Trump and his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recently indicated a desire to take the voucher idea to the federal level.
Julie Mead is Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin Madison. She joins 8 O’Clock Buzz host Brian Standing in the studio to explain the legal and policy ramifications of educational voucher programs.