You Heard the Claims. Here Are the Facts About School Choice In Wisconsin

The most recent legislative session featured promising new education reforms. But the debate over legislation to expand parental choice to all Wisconsin students featured myths, lies, tall tales, and falsehoods. WILL Research Director, Will Flanders, and Nicholas Kelly, President of School Choice Wisconsin, addressed the biggest whoppers to ensure that this important debate isn’t distracted by unfounded claims.

  • Read the Policy Brief HERE

Claim: Schools in the choice program are picking and choosing students

The Truth: Schools in the choice program have a deeply vetted admissions process that is clearly laid out in state law and approved by DPI. State law mandates that these procedures are audited each year by an independent CPA and reviewed again by DPI. When this claim is made, it is an accusation that schools are violating the law and DPI is covering it.

Claim: Some schools in the choice program don’t feed their student’s lunch

The Truth: All schools in the choice program provide lunch periods for their students. While there are no statutory requirements for private schools to provide lunch for their students, most private schools in the Parental Choice Programs do provide lunch to their kids. Based on an impromptu survey by School Choice Wisconsin, 78% of 160 respondents provide some program for free/reduced meals.

Claim: Schools in the choice program are doing worse than public schools

The Truth: When student opt-outs are accounted for, proficiency rates in Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) hover at or below 20% in both math and English/Language Arts. Even after DPI adjusted their metrics, 51 of 165 schools in the district either “failed to meet expectations” or “met few expectations.” The data shows that schools participating in the choice program do better, on average, and choice and charter schools outperform their public-school peers in student proficiency across the state.

Claim: School choice is a failed experiment

The Truth: The School Choice Demonstration Project found that MPCP students were more likely to attend and persist in college, less likely to become involved in criminal activity, and achieved higher academic results on some state standardized tests. And more studies in recent years continue to see students in the school choice programs do better than their peers.

Claim: Milton Friedman’s vision for school choice is a failure

The Truth: This is an odd claim. Friedman’s vision was for a system in which government would not be the only education provider available to the vast majority of families. The growth of school choice in Wisconsin and across the country has shown that parents want options and know what is best for their child. Milton Friedman would see that as a success.

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