K-12 Education


Policy Report

Opening The School House Door: Promoting Curriculum Transparency

WILL is urging the adoption of curriculum transparency legislation to arm parents and taxpayers with the ability to access and review controversial curriculum material in public schools. WILL recently issued identical open records requests to nine large Wisconsin school districts and experienced, first-hand, the cost, time, and difficulty of accessing curriculum material.

Policy Report

Dreams Deferred: The Economic Cost of Learning Loss in Wisconsin


This study estimates that spring 2020 school closures and incomplete curriculums could cost Wisconsin students more than $7 billion in lifetime earnings losses. The staggering cost serves as a stark warning about the effects of learning loss due to school building closures in the 2020-21 school year.

Policy Report

Public School Choice in Wisconsin: A Work in Progress

New study profiles open enrollment program, examines school district impact The News: With the approach of National School Choice Week, January 24-29, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) provides a first of its kind look at Wisconsin’s […]

Policy Report

Opting Out: Enrollment Trends in Response to Continued Public School Shutdowns


Amidst statewide enrollment decline, schools that opted for virtual learning see largest declines The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) published a new study that reveals that school districts that started the 2020-21 school […]

Policy Report

Politics in the Pandemic: The Role of Unions in School Reopening Decisions

Local presence of COVID-19 not predictive of district decisions The News: A new study from the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) found that the presence of a teachers union and the politics of a particular region, not necessarily the […]

Policy Report

Empty Handed: How Milwaukee Thwarted a State Law Meant to Help Schools


WILL Policy Brief revisits how state law was thwarted by local actors for the last five years The News: A new Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) policy brief reveals how a state law passed in 2015 intended to make vacant Milwaukee schools […]

Policy Report

Needs Improvement: How Wisconsin's Report Cards Can Mislead Parents

COVID interruption provides opportunity to consider, implement improvements The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) issued a new policy brief, Needs Improvement: How Wisconsin’s Report Card Can Mislead Parents, to explain how […]

Policy Report

Without A Choice: Wisconsin's High-performing School Deserts


WILL study identifies high-performing school deserts in Wisconsin The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) released a new report identifying 134 Wisconsin ZIP codes with 40,000 school-age children that have no high-performing […]

Policy Report

Poll: Messaging Reopening Wisconsin

Respondents support safety measures, largely unmoved by messages The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) conducted a statewide poll of Wisconsin voters to better understand […]

Policy Report

WILL Surveys Wisconsin Parents on Education and COVID-19


Despite parent satisfaction with schools, red flags for lawmakers The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) conducted a groundbreaking survey of Wisconsin parents with school-age children in April to gain insight into their […]

Policy Report

How Wisconsin Should Spend its CARES K-12 Funding

WILL leads coalition of 38 state and national groups advocating for private schools The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed an amicus brief Wednesday in Michigan v. DeVos, a critical legal dispute in federal court between a […]

Policy Report

Ripple Effect: How expanding Wisconsin's school choice programs can lead to more college graduates and a stronger economy


WILL begins National School Choice Week with release of groundbreaking new study. The News: On the first day of National School Choice Week, a new study (here) estimates how further growth of Wisconsin’s parental choice programs could result in $3.2 […]

Policy Report

Two Madisons: The Education and Opportunity Gap in Wisconsin's Fastest Growing City

The education scandal in Wisconsin’s most progressive city. The News: Madison, the fastest growing city in Wisconsin, has a lot going for it. But the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) is failing their low-income and minority […]

Policy Report

Myth Busters III: Fact-checking the Wisconsin Legislature on School Choice


Assault on school choice leads to inaccurate statements In the News: With the Assembly scheduled to vote on the state budget tomorrow, it is the ideal time to release WILL’s annual report fact-checking state lawmakers on school choice. Myth Busters […]

Policy Report

Feds in the Classroom II: The Implications of Federal Intervention on IDEA Discipline for States

The News:  The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty’s “Feds in the Classroom II” report finds that federal intervention in discipline policy through mandating race-based suspension thresholds for students with disabilities is likely to cause many […]

Policy Report

Apples to Apples: The Definitive Look at School Test Scores in Milwaukee and Wisconsin for 2019


Wisconsin’s education options are working The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty’s 2019 Apples to Apples report finds, for a third year in a row, Wisconsin’s charter schools and private schools in the choice program are outperforming […]

Policy Report

Wisconsin K-12 Education Poll and Memo (2018)

Statewide poll finds low support for Evers’ attack on school choice The News: With K-12 education policy taking center stage in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) conducted a statewide poll of registered voters to […]

Policy Report

A Deep Dive into Governor Evers' K-12 Budget Proposal


Today WILL is releasing “A Deep Dive into Governor Evers’ K-12 Budget Proposal” that goes through nearly every single education proposal in Evers’ budget while utilizing new research as well as […]

Policy Report

A Roadmap to Student Achievement

Detailed policy roadmap shows how state can improve student outcomes The Problem: Wisconsin’s K-12 education system is not working. Reading and math achievement has been stagnant for two […]

Policy Report

Truth in Spending: An Analysis of K-12 Public School Spending in Wisconsin

New analysis on K-12 spending raises questions about student impact The News: Last month, Governor Tony Evers proposed $1.4 billion in additional spending on K-12 education in Wisconsin. This […]

Policy Report

Untapped Potential: Federal Disability Program and Wisconsin's Labor Shortage

Parents in Milwaukee Are Choosing Schools Based on Quality Background: With traditional Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), three types of public charter schools, and private schools in the Milwaukee […]

Policy Report

Leaving Money on the Table


Divided government still has opportunities to fully utilize tools from federal government November 13, 2018 – Milwaukee, WI – Wisconsin will implement the Every Student Succeeds Act […]

Policy Report

Keeping Score: Act 10's Impact on Student Achievement

Most comprehensive study to date on effect of Act 10 on student achievement   October 3, 2018 – Milwaukee, WI – The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty released the first study to date […]

Policy Report

Silent Successes: The (Still) Undertold Stories of School Districts using Act 10


Despite the media coverage, Act 10 producing “silent successes” in school districts August 22, 2018 – Milwaukee, WI — Today WILL released a policy brief, authored by WILL’s Will […]

Policy Report

"Money for Nothing: The Relationship Between Various Types of School Spending and Academic Outcomes"

Report casts doubt on link between academic outcomes and spending   August 7, 2018 – Milwaukee, WI – With campaigns in full swing, candidates are frantically trying to outdo each […]

Policy Report

What Goes Around Comes Around: How MPS and Milwaukee's Failure to Sell Vacant School Building Has Contributed to the Districts Budget Deficit


New MPS records reveal how MPS is hurting its budget deficit by refusing to sell facilities to charter, private schools August 1, 2018 — Milwaukee, WI — In about five weeks, Milwaukee Public […]

Policy Report

WILL Messaging Experiment & Public Opinion Poll on K-12 Education Reform

What do Wisconsinites think of school choice, Act 10, and school funding   June 25, 2018 – MILWAUKEE, WI – With education issues taking center stage in political debates across […]

Policy Report

Collateral Damage: The Impact of Department of Education Policies on Wisconsin Schools


The Department of Education’s one-size-fits-all softer suspension policies are negatively impacting students   January 23, 2018 – Milwaukee, WI – Today the Wisconsin […]

Policy Report

Let There be Light: How long does it take Wisconsin's largest school district to comply with open records laws?

MPS, MMSD struggle with transparency while RUSD, Green Bay earn “A”s November 14, 2017 – Milwaukee, WI – While it is well-documented how effective state agencies are at […]

Policy Report

Feds in the Classroom: The Impact of Obama Administration's Discipline Policy on Wisconsin's Public Schools

Federal guidance yielded lower suspension rates in Wisconsin public schools, school safety concerns remain October 11, 2017 – Milwaukee, WI – The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty […]

Policy Report

Wisconsin Special Needs Children Deserve School Choice

The following blog post was authored by WILL Research Director, Will Flanders, PhD, and WILL Vice President for Policy, CJ Szafir Wisconsin’s model for educating special needs children is […]

Policy Report

Accountability in Action: The Impact of Fiscal Accountability and Parental Choice on the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program


Report challenges voucher program critics’ opposition that schools are “unaccountable”  August 1, 2017 – Milwaukee, WI – School Choice Wisconsin (SCW) and Wisconsin […]

Policy Report

FAQ on the Every Student Succeeds Act

Frequently Asked Questions About Every Student Succeeds Act May 30, 2017 – Milwaukee, WI – Right now the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is making policy decisions unilaterally […]

Policy Report

The Never-Ending Story of Milwaukee’s Vacant School Buildings


The City of Milwaukee is failing to follow state law, State must intervene (again) March 10, 2017 – Milwaukee, WI – A new WILL report explains how the City of Milwaukee is failing to […]

Policy Report

10 Things Everyone Must Know About the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

WILL releases memo that explains new federal education law and its impact on Wisconsin January 5, 2017 – Milwaukee, WI – Passed by Congress in December 2015 with bipartisan support, the Every […]

Policy Report

Why the State of Wisconsin Forced Coca-Cola to Sell to Pepsi


August 12, 2015 – Milwaukee, WI – Last month, the state legislature passed a law to force Milwaukee to sell their unused and underutilized school buildings. In WILL’s latest report, “Why […]

Policy Report

MPS and the City of Milwaukee Ignore State Law and Policy

Based on a MPS open records request, WILL concludes that the City of Milwaukee’s policy of giving Milwaukee Public Schools the authority to designate and sell or lease its unused school buildings […]

Policy Report

DPI's War on School Choice Program


WILL and the Education Action Group (“EAG”) have partnered to release a thoroughly-researched report on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (“DPI”) and the school choice program. The […]

Policy Report

The Story of School Choice-Constitutional Challenges and Victories

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (“WILL”) has released a report, “The Story of School Choice – Constitutional Challenges and Victories,” that provides a brief – but thorough – […]

Policy Report

Apples-to-Oranges? When comparisons are made between MPCP and MPS school


Too often, the media, politicians, and interest groups try to form conclusions by lumping schools together according to “sector” – traditional public schools in the Milwaukee Public School (MPS) […]

Policy Report

Growth and Gaps: Comparing different types of public schools in Wisconsin

Charter schools were designed to be public schools that facilitate educators’ efforts to navigate around bureaucratic inefficiencies and the influence of labor unions in traditional public […]

Policy Report

School Choice Across the Globe: DO other countries have more robust voucher programs than Wisconsin?


School Choice Across the Globe Despite the heated rhetoric, critics of school choice may be surprised to learn that voucher programs are quite common in the economically developed world.  Twenty […]

Policy Report

Busting Four MORE Myths About School Choice

Dispatches critics’ claims, debunks oft-repeated myths about Wisconsin’s school choice programs March 1, 2016 – Milwaukee, WI – The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty has released a policy […]

Policy Report

The Economic Benefit of School Choice in Milwaukee


First-of-its-kind study shows how higher graduation rates, lower criminality of Milwaukee Parental Choice Program provide substantial economic impact December 15, 2016 – Milwaukee, WI – The […]

Policy Report

Back to the Future: Answering attacks from opponents of Wisconsin education reform - before they make them

February 8, 2017 – Milwaukee, WI – Today’s release of Gov. Scott Walker’s budget will launch a roughly four month debate about K-12 education policy in Wisconsin.  The debate, […]

Policy Report

The Case for School Choice in Rural Wisconsin


Rural public schools face challenges of poverty and low student achievement – yet parents lack access to educational options   April 13, 2017 – Milwaukee, WI – The Wisconsin Institute […]

Policy Report

Left Behind How Wisconsin Struggles to Educate Gifted & Talented Students--And How ESA's Can Help

Policy brief explains how ESAs can help low-income “gifted and talented” students   December 18, 2017 – Milwaukee, WI – Last Friday, State Senator Alberta Darling introduced […]

Policy Report

Diminishing Returns in K-12 Education


Has Wisconsin hit a wall where an additional dollar in education spending will not bring improvements in student outcomes?  Using econometric analysis, WILL’s latest education policy report […]

Policy Report

Pope's Fallacy: A Brief Primer on General School Aid

WILL Releases “Pope’s Fallacy”, a Primer on Wisconsin K-12 Education Finance Opponents of education reform misrepresent official DPI memo, data   July 21, 2015, Milwaukee, […]

Policy Report

Undertold Stories of Act 10


The undertold story of how superintendents have used Act 10 to reform schools April 19, 2016 – Milwaukee, WI – As Wisconsin reached the 5 year anniversary of Act 10, the Wisconsin Institute for […]

Policy Report

The Impact of Act 10 on Wisconsin's Education Workforce

Most comprehensive study to date of effect of historic reforms on classrooms, teachers June 21, 2016 – Milwaukee, WI – The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty has released a new […]

Policy Report

Education Savings Accounts- a Primer For 21st Century Education Policy


Provides roadmap for Wisconsin policymakers July 13, 2016 – Milwaukee, WI – Today, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty released a comprehensive study of Education Savings Accounts (ESA) […]

Policy Report

5 Things Everyone Should Know About the State Budget

May 2, 2017 – Milwaukee, WI – The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty has released a new policy brief, “5 Things Everyone Should know About the State Budget.” Like every budget […]

Policy Report

Biased Questions, Biased Answers: Getting Beyond the Rhetoric and Talking Points on School Financing


Getting Beyond the Rhetoric and Talking Points on School Financing August 29, 2016 – Milwaukee, WI – The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty has released a policy brief, authored by […]

Policy Report

STEM Education: Beyond the Buzzword

September 29, 2016 – Milwaukee, WI – A new Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty report, authored by WILL Research Fellow Collin Roth, explores the state of STEM education in Wisconsin’s K-12 […]

Policy Focus

COVID-19 and Education

The COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the United States in early 2020 – quickly disrupting every element of American life. K-12 education seemingly changed overnight. School buildings closed and students and teachers were forced to arrange virtual learning on the fly. The federal government passed massive relief bills that pumped millions of federal dollars into K-12 schools. And teachers unions and parents fought over in-person learning and the careful balance between health and education.

WILL boldly entered this new and uncertain policy environment and provided groundbreaking research, polling, and advocacy. 

Policy Focus

K-12 Finance

Current school funding is a complex combination of state, local and federal aid. Funding in districts is largely based on antiquated revenue limits that have cemented in place funding gaps for 25 years. Students are worth more, or less, depending on where they happen to live, or whether they attend a choice or charter school. 

WILL’s priorities for K-12 finance include public school spending transparency, student-centered funding models, and closing the funding gaps between school sectors.


Policy Focus

School Discipline

During the Obama administration, the federal Department of Education began an unprecedented intervention into America’s classrooms. Federal bureaucrats issued guidance to, and threatened investigation of, state and local school officials to force changes in schools suspension policies in order to combat racial discrimination.

Since 2017, WILL has examined the impact of these policy changes on Wisconsin schools.

Policy Focus

Act 10 and Public Unions


For the better part of the last decade, no piece of legislation has loomed larger in public policy debates in Wisconsin than Act 10, the collective bargaining reform law passed in 2011. The controversial budget repair bill, introduced by Governor Scott Walker in the first weeks of his first term, represented a fundamental break with the past and a new era for state and local governments in the Badger State.


Policy Focus

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)


The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the newest federal law on K-12 education, replacing No Child Left Behind. ESSA gives states more power – in exchange for federal funds – to set education policy. To comply with ESSA, Wisconsin must implement its state plan, which includes creating a new accountability system and federal report card.

WILL provided legal analysis and input on Wisconsin’s state plan.


Policy Focus

Vacant Schools


The City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) have spent years trying to keep vacant and underutilized school buildings from being sold to Milwaukee’s charter schools or private schools. 

WILL has been involved in documenting the vacant and underutilized schools in Milwaukee, the experience schools have had with the City, and the costs that have accrued as a result of the City’s refusal to sell.


Policy Focus

Student Proficiency


For all of the conversation around education, student proficiency and academic outcomes can often take a back seat. Worse, the conversation can be shrouded in myths and bad data.

WILL has authored the Apples to Apples report to provide true comparisons about academic achievement across school sectors. And WILL continues to make the case for policies that will place academic outcomes and student proficiency as a top priority.

Policy Focus

Curriculum Transparency


Curriculum transparency legislation would arm parents and taxpayers with the ability to access and review controversial curriculum material in public schools.


Policy Focus

Voucher Program Analysis

Wisconsin is home to the oldest private school voucher program in the entire country. WILL has always prioritized school choice and will continue to provide legal services and high-quality research on Wisconsin’s private school choice programs.


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The State of Wisconsin Education

Cutting through the noise about where Wisconsin education stacks up How does Wisconsin stack up against other states in K-12 education? An eye-popping ...

Restoring American Education

The pandemic revealed rifts in the public education of our children. Parents were provided a peek into the classroom and had questions and concerns about ...

WILL to Kiel Schools: Drop Title IX Complaint, Investigation of Eighth Graders for Using “Incorrect Pronouns”

School district is charging students with sexual harassment for “mispronouning” The News: Attorneys with the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty ...

Governor Evers: It’s Time to Recognize Parental Rights in Education

UPDATE: Governor Evers vetoed the Parent Bill of Rights on April 15, 2022. Governor Evers' veto message claimed the bill was aimed at "dividing our ...

What To Know About Equity and Education

The word “equity” is certainly the new buzzword in public schools. The U.S. Department of Education has prioritized “equity” and even holds an “equity ...

Parents Demand More Rights in Education, More Options for Children

The News: The Senate Committee on Education is holding a public hearing on a series of important K-12 education reform bills, including a parent bill of ...

Education Reform Opponents Rely on Myths to Oppose School Choice

Libby Sobic and Will Flanders As education reform gains momentum across the nation, particularly in Wisconsin, opponents of reform appear to be getting ...

Rep. Snodgrass Out of Touch with Families on Education Reform

By:  Will Flanders & Libby Sobic Yesterday, State Representative Lee Snodgrass created a firestorm with her Tweet, “If parents who want to have a ...