Browsing: School Choice

A new bill in Madison could, if enacted, result in substantial property tax cuts in many school districts. It would also result in significantly higher state aid for many traditional public school districts where large numbers of children choose to attend independent charter schools or private schools in one of Wisconsin’s parental choice programs.

To bring about change, parents need to know what a school is teaching. They also need the leverage to object. School choice is not the only tool, but it is a necessary first tool, because parents’ power to change schools comes from their power to leave schools for better ones.

Since 2009, Wisconsin district school enrollment is down 8.3%, or 72,032 students. Independent charter school enrollment is up 81%, or 5,185 students. Choice school enrollment is up 163%, or 34,021 students.

Wisconsin’s Forward Exam, used since 2015-16, tests all students in grades 3 through 8 on reading and math every year, though the 2019-20 school year was skipped.

Students’ performance is ranked as “advanced,” “proficient,” “basic” or “below basic.”

The bargain struck Thursday between legislative leaders and the governor ensures the financial sustainability of the school choice and charter school programs but that also increases the low revenue ceiling for public school districts that are on the bottom of the revenue spectrum.

“This is good day for Wisconsin, and for anyone who cares about our children – parents who want more power over their kids’ education, teachers who work so hard, and school administrators who have long worried about sustainability,” said Badger Institute President Mike Nichols.

A new poll last month asked 700 likely voters, “Do you generally support or oppose school choice?” and 70% said “support.” That’s a landslide. Sure, the idea was big with Republicans, but 67% of independents favor choice. A majority of Democrats, 53%, did.