3 in 4 Milwaukee Students Opt Out of Neighborhood Public School

[Madison, Wisc…] A new report by the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy shows that more than seventy five percent of Milwaukee’s K-12 students actually exercise some form of educational choice every year.

“Critics have characterized School Choice as a temporary experiment, one that should be feared by parents and the public,” said MacIver President Brett Healy. “Our research shows that in fact school choice in the broadest sense — parents rejecting the arbitrarily assigned neighborhood public school for a different school — is a fundamental part of Milwaukee’s educational landscape.”

The MacIver Educational Choice Census reveals that 87,191 of the 115,022 Milwaukee school children are educated in a place other than their traditional, geographically-assigned public school.

Total K-12 population in City of Milwaukee 115,022

Milwaukee 2009 Enrollment Total Students % of Total Student Population
Traditional Public Schools 27,831 24.20%
Charter Schools 17,612 15.31%
Public Online Charter (Virtual) Schools 977 0.85%
Open Enrollment public school transfers 4,562 3.97%
Chapter 220 public school transfers
-Interdistrict Transfers 2,720 2.36%
-Intradistrict Transfers 24,796 21.56%
Three-Choice Enrollment* 6,883 5.98%
Private Schools 28,893 25.12%
Homeschooling 748 0.65%
Students Exercising Choice 87,191 75.80%
*Estimate based on MPS reporting of students attending neighborhood schools (District Communications Plan May 2008 – Revised 11.25.09)

The MacIver Educational Choice Census reveals that the concept of choice in education is something parents, particularly in Milwaukee, are embracing,” said Healy. “All across Wisconsin, families are demanding options; and rather than limit these options with arbitrary enrollment caps, lawmakers should empower parents and meet their constituents’ demands for unfettered access to the schools of their choice.”


The MacIver Educational Choice Census was compiled by Education Policy Analyst Christian D’Andrea using figures provided by the State Department of Public Instruction, the Milwaukee Public Schools, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families and EdReform.com.