Supporters of school vouchers owe much of the success of their effort in recent years to the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation. Founded with the profits from an electronics business, Bradley is a key supporter of efforts to divert public school funding to private and parochial schools.
Bradley funds groups that have:
Institute for Justice's Clint Bolick is part of Gov. Tommy Thompson's "legal dream team" to defend vouchers. Bolick previously received Bradley Foundation support for similar work with the Landmark Legal Foundation ($310,000 in overall grants, 1990-92). Bradley also paid a share of the legal fees for another member of the vouchers dream team: Kenneth Starr, whose day job as Whitewater independent counsel would seem to pose a certain ethical conflict.
After legislation created a pilot voucher program in Milwaukee to test how well vouchers worked, Bradley provided $3.2 million to create and fund a group called Partners Advancing Values in Education, which provides vouchers for low-income parents to send their children to any school, including religious schools. The irony is that the purpose of the pilot program was to test the viability of vouchers. By providing supplemental funding, Bradley helped ensure that the program would clear one of its toughest hurdles: the funding problem.
Bradley has funded a series of local groups to press for vouchers, including: