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May 20 2019

Wisconsin Schools of Choice Get More Bang for Every Education Buck

by Vicki E. Alger

Private schools and independent public charter schools are more productive than district public schools, according to a new report.

Author Corey DeAngelis compared the productivity of schools in cities throughout Wisconsin based on per-pupil funding and student achievement. Wisconsin is home to the country’s longest-running modern voucher program, launched in 1990, and its first charter school opened in 1994. Wisconsin’s four private-school parental choice programs currently enroll over 40,000 students combined, and more than 43,000 students are enrolled in charter schools.

Compared to district public schools, private schools participating in parental choice programs receive receive 27 percent less per-pupil funding, and charter schools receive 22 percent less. Yet these schools get more bang for every education buck, according to DeAngelis:

I find that private schools produce 2.27 more points on the Accountability Report Card for every $1,000 invested than district-run public schools [across 26 cities], demonstrating a 36 percent cost-effectiveness advantage for private schools. Independent charter schools produce 3.02 more points on the Accountability Report Card for every $1,000 invested than district-run public schools [throughout Milwaukee and Racine], demonstrating a 54 percent cost-effectiveness advantage for independent charter schools.

These are important findings, particularly in light of Governor Tony Evers’ attempts to limit parental choice in education. This year he has proposed freezing the number of students who can enroll in three low-income voucher programs, phasing out the special-needs student voucher program, and banning the creation of new charter schools until 2023.

DeAngelis recommends instead that education full funding follow all students, regardless of what type of school their parents think is best for them, including charter and private schools. That would introduce powerful  incentives for all schools to use funds wisely to attract and retain students. He also suggests giving public-school principals more autonomy over budgeting to improve spending efficiencies.





Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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