School Choice Study Affirms ValueAdvocates Encouraged by Findings

MacIver News Service – [Madison, Wisc…] 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 study of the program.

The study indicates that achievement gains for ‘Choice’ students are “higher than but not significantly different from similar MPS students after two years.”

University of Arkansas professor Patrick J. Wolf heads their School Choice Demonstration Project and has been conducting the five-year longitudinal study as authorized by a 2005 Act of the Wisconsin legislature.

“Typically in America we like to expand liberty so long as we’re confident it’s not going to cause harm to anybody,” said Wolf. “From all the evidence we’ve ¬†uncovered in our evaluation of the MPCP program, it isn’t causing harm to anyone. Students aren’t academically harmed from it…levels of integration are not worsened by it…the state is actually spending less money as a result of it.”

Taxpayer support for children participating in the choice program is $6,442 per pupil. Taxpayers spend $14,011 for each student enrolled in Milwaukee’s public schools. MPS’s real per pupil spending has increased 18 percent over the last ten years while per-pupil support for MPCP participants has remained flat. Ten years ago per-pupil taxpayer support for students in the MPCP was 54 percent of per-pupil spending in MPS. This year that figure has fallen to 46 percent.

“There is an efficiency benefit to the program,” said Wolf.

Wolf’s team of researchers studying the MPCP include professors Jay P. Greene at the University of Arkansas and John F. Witte at the University of Wisconsin.

“Parents are getting choices here, because of this program,” said Witte. “There is a question of opportunity here, of freedom and of choice.”

Choice supporters contend that taxpayers are seeing value for the investment in the program and expect even more impressive results as the longitudinal study continues.

MacIver’s Bill Osmulski has more in this video report: