The Contrarian

Let the Debate Over Vouchers Begin

Tony Evers ran against school choice. But his DPI data shows choice and charter schools do better.

By - Nov 27th, 2018 10:09 am
Tony Evers. Photo by Michael Horne.

Tony Evers. Photo by Michael Horne.

Tony Evers’ election will provide a shot-in-the-arm for the school choice movement.

Evers has waged a rhetorical jihad against giving parents more power to pick where their children attend school. Early in the Walker Administration he went so far as to call an expansion of private school choice “immoral.” His successful campaign for governor featured a goal of phasing out the various state programs of support for private school choice.

In my opinion Evers’ pledge to curtail (end entirely?) school choice is good news. It spurs a debate that school choice supporters should be eager to have.

A central focus of that debate will be the results of state report cards recently released by none other than Evers. Consider this from former MPS School Board member Bruce Thompson, writing at (emphasis added):

The average [report card] score of Milwaukee charter schools is 70.5 which is at the high end of the “meets expectations” ratings….[the] Milwaukee Excellence Charter School, the charter school recently established over the opposition of several school board members, received the highest score of any school in Milwaukee…

The average scores for [private] schools in the [Milwaukee] Choice program…fell just slightly below that for charter schools.

On average, regular MPS schools fall well below both charter and Choice schools with an average score of 59.4, putting them in the “meets few expectations” range…

Then there is this from Journal Sentinel education columnist Alan Borsuk:

I’ve been reluctant for years to say one sector of schools was particularly “better” than another sector…But, based on the [Evers] report cards, the overall separation between MPS and the charter and private schools is more visible now.

Jim Bender at School Choice Wisconsin highlights other important results — also from Evers’ DPI.  Specifically, on the college readiness ACT exam students in the Milwaukee, Racine, and statewide choice programs score higher than students in traditional public schools.

A final set of data from Evers’ DPI compares the taxpayer costs of an MPS student ($14,900) with those in the Milwaukee choice program ($7,754 for grades K-8 and $8,400 for high school). In other words, the under-financed choice program nevertheless produces results superior to those of traditional public schools.

Every piece of evidence cited here comes from Tony Evers’ DPI. So let’s get the debate going.

2 thoughts on “The Contrarian: Let the Debate Over Vouchers Begin”

  1. Barb- West Bend says:

    Do choice and charter schools get to choose their students? Do they require the same education qualifications for teachers as Public schools? What are the percentages of poor and disadvantaged students at each type of school?

  2. Richard Marx says:

    Why is the government’s responsibility to fund church affiliated schools when the church congregations that sponsor them choose not to spend the money to support them? How can you compare schools when choice schools have been protected by Republicans for decades from providing the public with the same level of open records and different standards of accountability. Even though choice schools are functioning as a contract public entity providing educational services, children with documented special education needs have no rights the education they are entitled to under the choice program.

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