MILWAUKEE'S SCHOOL CHOICE PROGRAM

September 15, 1995

Six years ago, Wisconsin allowed Milwaukee parents to send their children to private schools using state-funded vouchers to pay for tuition. To date, Milwaukee's is the only school choice program of its kind.

  • Last year, 830 students were enrolled; - 1,636 students have participated at some time.
  • The program is open to families with incomes up to 175% of the poverty level - Currently about $26,000 for a family of four.
  • More than three-quarters of those eligible are minorities, with 60% of those being black.
  • Vouchers are worth about $3,300 this year.
  • About 3,500 students applied for vouchers this year.
  • Private Milwaukee high schools have an 88% graduation rate; public schools have a 48% rate.

Studies of academic test scores would seem to indicate that choice students are doing no better than public school students. But choice students were actually doing worse than the control group before they left public schools. So just doing as well as the control group now may actually be an improvement.

In addition, parents of choice students are much more satisfied with their schools than public school parents. In a recent survey of parent satisfaction, choice school parents were much more frequently "very satisfied" with various aspects of the school than were parents of public school enrollees.

Source: Charles Oliver, "School Choice: A Mixed Record," Investor's Business Daily, September 15, 1995.

 

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