The Contrarian

Journal Sentinel School Choice Blackout

Newspaper ignores new study with powerful results for voucher schools.

By - Sep 7th, 2020 10:08 am
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Headquarters. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Headquarters. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Dr. Patrick Wolf, Ph.D., is America’s leading academic scholar when it comes to evaluation of K-12 educational choice programs. His resume confirms his scholarly credentials.

Wolf’s extensive research on Milwaukee’s choice program adds importance to a new study, double-blind reviewed, that compares 8th and 9th grade choice students with peers in the Milwaukee Public Schools. With Dr. Corey DeAngelis, Ph.D., Wolf and DeAngelis conclude:

…[E]xposure to the [Milwaukee] program in eighth or ninth grade predicts conviction for criminal activity and lower rates of paternity suits. Specifically , exposure to the MPCP is associated with a reduction of 53 percent in drug convictions [and] 86 percent in property damage convictions…

More than a week ago, I emailed Annysa Johnson, the Journal Sentinel education reporter, asking if the paper intended to report these significant findings. She has not responded.

Johnson and the Journal Sentinel should be ground zero for reporting on school choice. The role of Milwaukee and Wisconsin, in what has become a national movement, has huge significance.  This is especially so given that Joe Biden and President Trump have opposing positions on the issue.

Here’s the other verifiable news that Journal Sentinel readers have not read:

  • On State of Wisconsin tests, there are 30 different ways to compare the academic proficiency of public and voucher students. On the most recently released results, voucher students out-performed low-income public students on 29 of 30 measures.  Even more notable, they out-performed all public students on 24 of 30 measures.
  • Voucher students outperform public school students on the college readiness ACT test.
  • DPI Report Cards show that choice schools and charters have 90 percent of the highest performing schools in Milwaukee for schools with at least 80 percent students of color.
  • While 49 percent of traditional Milwaukee public schools meet or exceed Report Card expectations, 68 percent of choice schools meet that threshold. In Racine, 77 percent of choice schools meet or exceed expectations compared to 46 percent of Racine public schools.

All this is news. To not report it is journalistic malfeasance.

18 thoughts on “The Contrarian: Journal Sentinel School Choice Blackout”

  1. Ryan Cotic says:

    Rememeber the union does not want this news to get out. It has become clear that it is not about improving the education for children for some but protecting their jobs, benefits and employment. A very sad state of affairs for those who claim to “care”.

  2. mkeumkenews09 says:

    What study is this, has it been peer reviewed, and has the data been shared with other researchers and analysts?

    Dr. Patrick Wolf’s work is funded by the Walton family, so that does raise a conflict of interest on this subject.

    This article explains some concerns and questions about an earlier study (about 2012) by Dr. Wolf on his methodology and the quality of his study:

  3. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    Parents who care enough to try something that is advertised as improving their kids’ chances have kids who do better than parents who don’t. Film at 11?

    What does that have to do with vouchers being successful? ZERO! It’s just the “Jesus rode a dinosaur” schools picking and choosing the kids who have parents who are more interested in their kids’ education.

    Call me when you control for parental involvement and/or poverty. Until then, this is all BS, with vouchers getting the same state tax dollars without having to take the same kids as public schools. And locals paying higher property taxes as a result of the vouchers.

  4. Dan Wilson says:

    How do you perform a double-blind study when one of the groups is self-selected?

  5. SFGiants58 says:

    Pat Wolf’s resume and body of work places him at the top tier of academics who have studied educational policy. How would he get published, over and over, by reputable journals if he was not independent? His collaborator on many key works is UW Poli Sci Professor John Witte.

    As for Jake, voucher schools get a fraction of the funding of public schools. The claim that the pick and choose students has been debunked eons ago. It’s interesting that Jake demeans public school parents as less motivated.

  6. KrisG-K says:

    Milwaukee Public Schools admits all students regardless of disability, special education needs, second language status, homelessness status, or behavior difficulties. MPS does not enroll students and then kick out the challenging ones out after “third Friday” when tax dollars are disbursed based on enrollment numbers. Let’s see the hard numbers on retention of hard-to-educate students in choice schools!

  7. SFGiants58 says:

    KrisG-K’s claims have been refuted years ago.

  8. gerrybroderick says:

    George has made a good living shilling for pedagogical special interests over the past four decades, so I would expect nothing less from him.

    It’s the impact of our tax dollars being used to subsidize religious institutions (against the will of so many of us) that is in need of unbiased scholarly inquiry.

    It also occurs to me that since The Right is so clearly driven by religious zealotry, perhaps our tax dollars going to the furtherance of religious schools should be deemed deductible as political contributions.

  9. Thomas Sepllman says:

    Hummmm Why does Urban Milwaukee continue to refuse to even discuss with me the possibility that abuse and traumatized kids do not do as well as kids who are not abused and traumatized? Such a study while accurate to the data collected is blind to the reality of the kids who are abused and traumatized and as such have brain injuries. When we begin to discuss brain injured children then we will begin to make progress. No one would expect a kid with a broken leg to run a race and yet we insist that children with brain injuries deal with their injuries themselves. I have posted my observations in the past with silence from the “education” giants because what I have to offer finally answers the Trupian/Republican CLAIM that it is all the Democrats and Big City Mayors fault. Now I do not expect that they have the ability to understand BUT surely the readers of Urban Milwaukee should be able to understand Call me 414 403 1341 and we can begin the conversation. Peace Tom

  10. SFGiants58 says:

    Gerry Broderick, did you notice that DPI (under a ranking system established under Gov Evers) ranks choice and charter schools higher than MPS? What shills.

  11. gerrybroderick says:

    SFGiants58 Did you read KrisG #6?

  12. SFGiants58 says:

    1. A thorough discussion of special needs students is here

    2. Many MPS schools have selective admission criteria and do not accept special needs students.

    3. There is zero evidence that choice schools kick out students after the third Friday count. If that practice existed it would be obvious from the available data. The Journal Sentinel’s Alan Borsuk explored and debunked this claim after it appeared several years ago in Milwaukee Magazine.

  13. SFGiants58 says:


    As my piece points out, the study has been peer reviewed and the data have been shared.

    Dr. Wolf holds an endowed position at the University of Arkansas, one that is supported in part by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation. The foundation exercises no control over his work, which has been accepted for publication in a wide array of highly respected journals. The same is true for the research of Dr. DeAngelis.

  14. gerrybroderick says:

    And the Walton Foundation funds points of view that they suspect might diverge from the Walton family’s political beliefs?

    As to Dr. Paul Wolf, is he the same Dr. Paul Wolf who is known throughout Fayetteville, Arkansas as a pro-life activist who is currently on the planning and governing board of the first Catholic high school there? The Ozark Catholic Academy? If so, I don’t doubt his credentials. Only his objectivity. (I couldn’t help noting that you conveniently side-stepped the church/state concerns I raised).
    Finally, is the use of SFGiants58, rather than using your name, a means of avoid accountability? Or might it be a pseudonym for Betsy De Vos?

  15. KrisG-K says:

    Mr. SFGiants, yes, there are several MPS schools (Rufus King, Reagan, Golda Meir) with accelerated programs that do have some entrance criteria, because of the obvious nature of the school program. That does not in any way justify your way over-stretching phrase “many MPS schools.” Perhaps you are not aware that those few schools do have special education programs in them. Rufus King, for example, has a highly-regarded program for visually impaired students
    There’s PLENTY of anecdotal evidence that former choice school students show up in MPS schools in early October. Just ask the MPS school secretaries who process their enrollment forms. Have you interviewed them?

  16. Mingus says:

    With the emphasis on test scores, school choice has force most school district to focus on teaching the test and making their students good test takers. There aren’t any future careers for our students as professional test takers.

  17. SFGiants58 says:

    Mingus, you have turned the facts on their head…it long has been the public school establishment and choice opponents that harped on test scores as showing choice schools “don’t work.” DPI ranks choice and charter schools higher than MPS schools (using a variety of criteria, including test scores).

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us