School Choice: Milwaukee, WI

Since the establishment of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) in 1990, the City of Milwaukee has been at the forefront of alternative education options throughout the country. MPCP is currently the nations largest and oldest school choice program, giving kindergarten through 12th grade students from low-income families living in the city the option to attend, at no cost, a participating private school.

When introduced, the program was limited to non-sectarian private schools within Milwaukee, however in 1998 the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that religious schools were constitutional, and thus they became another option for choice students. Since the introduction of religious schools, enrollment grew beyond the ceiling that was in place and the controversy over the choice program heightened.   

The goal of the choice program is to offer alternative schooling options, via publicly funded vouchers, for students to attend a private school they would otherwise not have the financial means to afford.  This was done in an effort to place students in schools where they would be able to excel and get the special education and attention they need. However, there is debate over whether or not the program is working to meet these goals and if vouchers are the most effective way of helping students with education problems. 

After twenty years, there is ample research and data available for both sides to argue their case. School choice advocates show that voucher students have a higher graduation rate than traditional Milwaukee Public School students. Those opposed to the program contend that the test scores released so far indicate that voucher students are performing no better than their MPS peers.  

This is a collection of the leading reports, both analytical and empirical, on the school choice options in Milwaukee. It covers the history and the pros and cons of the program, including reports by the nation's leading institutions for education reform and local newspapers from Milwaukee. The rationale for the program is laid out by its supporters and opponents, with testimony from teachers and parents in the Milwaukee education system. The Milwaukee school choice program has had an impact on education reform not only in Wisconsin, but across the country as well, as other leading school choice programs emerge. 

Show More

More About This Topic...

Click thumbnails below to view links

Quote Page

Commentary or Blog Post

An article discussing the shortcomings of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program in developing improved test scores.

Borsuk's article discusses the reasoning behind Diane Ravitch's switch from pro-voucher program to returning to focus solely on making public schools better.

An article examining the results of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.

An article discussing the results of the Milwaukee voucher program, which examined it in a study conducted after 20 years of its existence.

An article discussing Diane Ravitch's book on the effects of school choice and its impact on the traditional school and educational systems.

Borsuk evaluates the effectiveness of the Milwaukee Public School's choice program concluding that the program is a large contributer to the shape of the "educational landscape" within the city.

An article discussing the demographics and achievements of voucher program students in comparison to the Milwaukee public school students.

This article briefly mentions the findings of a report done to examine both the D.C. voucher program and the Milwaukee voucher program.

Erin Richards reports on data from a study comparing the high school graduation rates of students in Milwaukee Public Schools with those of students enrolled in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.

Marie Gryphon's article discussing the Milwaukee School Choice system, including its successes and short-comings.

This article asks the tough questions about whether the Milwaukee voucher program actually saves taxpayers money, and it also asks if it actually works.

Chart or Graph

This chart shows the progression of parental choice in the Milwaukee school system from 1989 through 2006.

This map shows where choice schools, MPS contracted schools, and independent charter schools are located within the city of Milwaukee.

This chart shows various regulations and criteria for students and participating institutions under these three education options within the City of Milwaukee.

This graph depicts the growth in the Milwaukee private school voucher program from the 1990-91 school year through 2006-07.

This graph shows the per-student revenue limit for Milwaukee Public Schools from 1994, the year revenue limits were established, through 2008.

Analysis Report White Paper

In this article, Hess analyses the reasons why Milwaukee and other cities' school choice programs have not yielded results as promised and hoped.

Charter Schools against the Odds explains how these policies can be amended to level the playing field and give charter schools--and the children they serve--a fairer chance to succeed.

John R. Warren's in-depth analysis of Milwaukee school choice and their voucher program.

The general purpose of this study is to assess the effectiveness of Milwaukee's independent charter schools in promoting student achievement growth. Independent charter schools are authorized by non-school district entities and are considered 'independent' because they are not a part of the Milwaukee Public School District (MPS).

This report provides descriptive data regarding the test scores of Milwaukee Parental Choice Program students in grades 4, 8 and 10 in reading, math and science, as reported to the School Choice Demonstration Project 2006-2007.

This report is the second in a series of annual reports produced by the School Choice Demonstration Project (SCDP) that will provide descriptive information about the private schools participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP), the oldest and largest urban school voucher program in the U. S. The MPCP was launched in the fall of 1990 with seven participating schools enrolling 341 students.

The newest installment of an annual report by School Choice Wisconsin documents how the Milwaukee Public Schools have improved since educational options like charter schools, contract schools, and vouchers were created or expanded in the 1990s.

An analysis examining the effects new regulations have on the voucher program in Milwaukee.

A comparison of test results from those students participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program with those students who remain in the Milwaukee Public Schools.

A report examining the intricacies and developments involved with the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. The researchers compare it to a "randomized experiment."

An analysis of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program 15 years after its inception.

The fiscal report of the schools participating in School Choice in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Video/Podcast/Media

Students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) perform no worse than their peers in that city's public schools despite costing taxpayers significantly less, according to the third year results of an ongoing independent five year study of the program.

Milwaukee teacher Ann Oulahan critiques the city's voucher program, arguing that there is a lack of accountability for voucher schools.

Primary Document

2005 Wisconsin Act 125, as part 2005 Senate Bill 618, repeals, amends, and creates statues relating to the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program and the Student Achievement Guarantee in Education Program.

A budget brief on the Milwaukee Parental Choice private voucher program. It discusses the income limit and various demographics of the program.

This brochure, designed for parents, provides information on the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program's 2010-2011 academic year. It includes basic information on the program, "Frequently Asked Questions," eligibility requirements, and guidelines on how to apply.

Chapter 35 of the Department of Public Instruction is composed of the administrative rule for the Milwaukee parental choice program. This chapter includes among other sections, a statement of purpose (PI 35.01), school requirements (PI 35.03), enrollment procedures (PI 35.04), financial requirements (PI 35.045), and fiscal policy practices (PI 35.047).

This memo, written by Senior Staff Attorney Joyce L. Kiel, provides a brief description of the 2005 Wisconsin Act 125 and the changes it made to the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (Choice Program) and the Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) Program.

Wisconsin Statue 119 is applicable to a first class city school system. The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (119.23) can be found beginning on page 4.

Books

Link

Engage

Click thumbnails below to view links

Online

Become a fan of Intellectual Takeout on Facebook!
Share Intellectual Takeout with friends, family, and colleagues on Facebook and Twitter!
At Intellectual Takeout, we think it's about time freedom went viral. Before our generation is the opportunity to embrace freedom, to unleash each individual's potential, and to have a prosperous future. And yet it seems that almost everyone running our cities, states, and federal government is intent on destroying freedom and burying us in debt to pay for it. If you, like us, believe that...
Education history in America is important to know. ITO traces how education has changed from the colonial period to present day America.
While many documentaries on the education system focus on various examples of failure, "Flunked" takes a bit different tack. While certainly acknowledging and exposing the failures of the system, "Flunked" also seeks out individuals and approaches that ARE working in education. The hope is that these points of hope may serve as examples for others working in education.  Here's the trailer:...
In the genre of documentaries revealing the problems with public education, "Kids Aren't Cars" focuses on helping us understand how schools are modeled after a factory system and what we need to do to change them. Understandably, treating kids as if they are a product to be manufactured has had detrimental effects on children going through the system and the overall level of education in America...
"Many parents and taxpayers feel helpless because the problems can seem so monumental. 'Kids Aren't Cars' director Kyle Olson reviews what he learned in the filmmaking process and the small things individuals can do that will add up to make a big difference." Here's Kyle being interviewed on a few things you can do and share with friends, family, and educators: Part 1Part 2
Okay, so your friends and family keep telling you to jump on the social media bandwagon, but you have no idea what the fuzz is about. Here’s the deal: The Internet gives liberty-loving folk like us an opportunity we have never had before: to make the case for individual liberty, limited government and free market economics instantly and globally. But with the vast amounts of information...

Offline

Curiously, not a few individuals are realizing that their education (K-12 and even college) neglected to provide them with as much understanding of the world as they would like. At Intellectual Takeout, we believe that however you feel about your education, there is still much to be learned. To that end, we'd like to refer you to one book and a collection of "study guides" that serve as...
Are you concerned your child isn't getting the education necessary to compete in the global economy or even, perhaps, to carry on the lessons and learning of Western Civilization? If so, you have a number of choices. You could, of course, consider changing schools to a charter school, private school, or even homeschooling. If that's overwhelming for you right now, you can always supplement your...
Sure, the idea of homeschooling is likely overwhelming. Indeed, homeschooling is a big commitment and a lot of work. That said, there's a reason why more and more parents are turning to homeschooling as the best option for their child(ren)'s education(s). Perhaps you are starting to realize that the public school system has changed a lot since you last attended it. Maybe you can't afford private...
Let's face it, most of us love to watch TV and movies. A wonderful way to spread ideas is to embrace our love of the cinema by hosting a movie night with friends and family.  There are numerous documentaries that do a fantastic job of sharing the ideas of liberty. You can pull a small group of friends together at your house or even consider asking a local restaurant or tavern to let you...
While there are a variety of really good documentaries about the failing public school systems in America, "The Cartel" stands alone in its frontal assault on the teacher unions, particularly those in New Jersey. If you'd like to get an inside look into how some teacher unions operate and the effects they have on education, you'll want to watch "The Cartel."From the movie's website: "This movie...
Another movie that tells the story of the failing public school model in the United States is “The Lottery”. It takes its own unique look at the systems by focusing on the use of lotteries to choose which children will be plucked from failing public schools and put into more successful public charter schools. Here’s the trailer:  You can watch the whole movie right now with the help of Hulu...
Watch "Waiting for Superman" to learn about the problems with the public education system.
Looking for an internship? If so, Intellectual Takeout has an opportunity for you. We have plenty of work to do as well as ideas to spread, and we need your help to get it done. If you're interested in an internship with Intellectual Takeout, you likely share our passion and you're excited about the possibility of working for a great cause. That said, you might have a few questions about what "...
How often do you hear conservatives being called a bunch of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals? Here's the reality: Conservatism, classical liberalism, and libertarianism have a rich, intellectual heritage reaching back many millennia. Our ideas are not just some historical relics from bygone eras; they are the very foundation of Western Civilization in general, amd the United States in particular....
Sadly (or happily for some), life goes on after college. So does the fight for freedom. Building friendships, networking, and growing the movement is critical after college. If our ideas are to be preserved and promoted, you need to stay involved. Plus, in a time when the individual seems to be ever more isolated and adrift, these groups can help plug you into social networks you can use....
Okay, so we don't expect you to drive a wooden stake into your flat screen. Plus, we're total hypocrites since we watch some TV. But here's the point: People waste a ton of time watching TV. If you're cool with government taking over your future, than keep watching Dancing with the Stars. If you consider yourself to be a free man or woman and want to live in a free society, then watch what you...
A great way to make a difference on your campus by spreading the ideas of individual rights, limited government, and free markets is to tutor. Plus, you can occasionally make a little bit of money. Depending on the subject matter, you will be discussing a variety of ideas, key thinkers, and theories. As anyone who has tutored knows, there are almost always opportunities to expand upon a topic....
In a highly regulated society such as ours, it's very easy to get yourself in trouble with the law. Learn more about how to protect yourself with the 5th Amendment and how to interact with the police.
The Association of American Educators (AAE) advances the teaching profession through personal growth, professional development, teacher advocacy and protection, as well as promoting excellence in education so that our members receive the respect, recognition and reward they deserve.

On Campus

Whatever activism you choose to do on campus, you need to get your story out. A popular tactic used by the Left is to isolate and intimidate freedom-loving students. You're not alone and there are a lot of people in your city, state, and country that can probably support your efforts. They just need to know what is happening. Whenever you can, record in-class bias, discrimination against...
The reality is that most students (and people for that matter) won't speak out. It's called human nature and it was recognized in the Declaration of Independence: "...all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed." While you might feel alone when debating a teacher,...
If you're not happy with the direction of the country and you want to take back your future, at some point you will have to do something. It's not enough to just know that we're going in the wrong direction. You actually have to step out and get involved. Most college campuses have conservative and libertarian student groups. Find one of them to join. Below is a list of some of the larger non-...
When it comes to campus life injustices, student fees rank high on any list. On most campuses across the country a mandatory student fee is assessed to each student at the beginning of the year. A portion of this fee, which may be several hundred dollars, will go toward funding various political, religious, and interest groups.  A college requiring you to support groups espousing ideas which...
In the land of the free and the home of the brave, speech codes are a particularly odious example of politically correct repression on many a college campus. In some ways, college campuses are the least free places for thinking and speech in America. Your best friend for fighting your school's repressive speech codes is the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Here's a short clip...
Running for office isn't easy, even in college. Not everyone is cut out for it, either. For those of you who are, this completely non-partisan section is for you. If you are inclined to pursue student government, we're not going to spend time on telling you how to get elected. A good place to go for ideas and training is CampusReform.org. Rather, we want to help you in office, as a believer in...
Now that you're at college and the initial excitement has worn off, maybe you're thinking that the course selection is a bit biased and you'd like some options. So how do you (the consumer) get the college (the business) to change up its offerings? It certainly won't be easy. Nevertheless it's something that should be done--particularly since you're footing the bill. A good, education in a free...
We've built Intellectual Takeout to provide you with quick, easy access to information. In time, we hope to become your one-stop-shop for the ideas of freedom. If your professor allows you to bring your laptop to class (if not, you can use an iPhone), we recommend keeping a tab open to Intellectual Takeout. As we continue to generate new content on the site, you will be able to fact check the...

Related Content