Wisconsin’s school choice students attend better schools than their peers in tradionally zoned public schools, new data reveals.
Analysis of Wisconsin’s most recent state report card found that choice students in Milwaukee and Racine had much better odds of attending a high-quality school.
The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program provides low-income families with vouchers of $8,500. Established in 1990, it’s one of the oldest school choice programs in the nation and serves nearly 30,000 students.
The Racine program, started in 2011, provides vouchers of similar value to 4,000 families.
While Wisconsin public schools spend much more per pupil – near $16,000 per K-12 student – public school students are less likely than school choice students to attend a high-quality school.
The chart, created by School Choice Wisconsin (SCW), compiled state data to show how many public school students (right side of each chart) attended high-quality schools compared to school choice students (left side of each chart).
Both the Milwaukee and Racine programs clearly help more students attend thriving schools.
“This confirms what we already know – that choice works for Wisconsin families and provides students from low-to-moderate income families a change to attend great schools and thrive personally and academically,” said Nic Kelly, president of SCW.
Both programs also serve large numbers of minority students.
In Milwaukee, roughly 48% of school choice students are African American and 35% are Hispanic.
Racine has 30% Hispanic and 21% African American choice participants.
School choice also helps Wisconsin students with disabilities attend better schools.
Many policy experts say such options are desperately needed as urban public schools nationwide struggle to provide adequate education.
In Milwaukee, just 17% of students are proficient in reading and 11% in math. Racine’s scores are only slightly better – 19% and 14%, respectively.
But that hasn’t stopped left-wing activists from trying to destroy school choice.
A recently filed lawsuit claims school choice is unconstitutional and undermines public education. But some legal experts call the claims “nonsense.”
“‘Facts’ in their complaint are incomplete, misleading, misinformed, and their legal arguments border on nonsense,” said Rick Esenberg, president and general counsel at The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty.
“School choice is growing because it works. All parents deserve the right to find the best education for their children,” added Kelly. “Efforts to kill school choice will hurt thousands of low-income families throughout the state.”