MacIver Educational Choice Census Shows Widespread Appetite for Schooling Options in Wisconsin

[Madison, Wisc…] A new report by the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy shows that more than 200,000 Wisconsin K-12 students exercise some form of educational choice every year.

“When Wisconsinites talk of school choice, they automatically think of the ground-breaking Milwaukee Parental Choice Program that gives low-income parents the freedom to chose the best school for their child,” said MacIver President Brett Healy.  “The MacIver Educational Choice Census shows that choice is widespread throughout the entire state, with more than 20 percent of all Wisconsin students choosing a school other than the traditional neighborhood school.”

The MacIver Educational Choice Census reveals that 222,086 of the 1,026,606 Wisconsin school children are educated in a place other than their traditional, geographically-assigned public school.

Total Wisconsin K-12 Population 1,026,606
  Number of
% of
Traditional Public Schools 801,569 78.30
Students Exercising Choice 222,086 21.70
Public Charter Schools 37,432 3.66
Open Enrollment transfers 28,025 2.70
Online Public Charter (Virtual) Schools
3,635 0.36
Chapter 220 transfers 2,925 0.29
Private Schools 130,800 12.78
Homeschooling 19,269 1.88

“The MacIver Educational Choice Census demonstrates that Wisconsin families want and expect high-quality options – public, private, virtual or charter – no matter where they live,” said Healy. “Rather than limit a student’s opportunity to achieve a brighter future with restrictive enrollment caps or arbitrary geographic borders, policymakers should look for ways to promote more freedom and more educational choice across more of the state.  As the choice census shows, educational choice is increasingly becoming an important part of the Wisconsin way of life.”

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 Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families and

Coming soon: The MacIver Educational Choice Census examines Milwaukee’s population.