The Assembly Committee on Education held a hearing on Assembly Bill 970 Wednesday. The bill would essentially provide universal school choice here in The Badger State.
WFA has been a vocal proponent of school choice over the years. We were thrilled when Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-led state legislature expanded the Parental Choice Program (PCP) to the entire state as the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program. Assembly Bill 970 will further expand educational opportunities for families and promote parental rights.
I testified to the committee in support of this bill, explaining that several studies demonstrate the efficacy of school choice.
With the formation of School Choice Wisconsin and Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty, we
have conducted extensive research showing that students enrolled in one of our PCPs (Milwaukee, Racine, Statewide), on average, do very well, often out-performing their peers in public schools.
In WILL’s most recent Apples to Apples Study (covering 2019 test data), Milwaukee’s Parental Choice Program Proficiency rates in math exceeded rates in Milwaukee Public Schools by 3.9% and by 4.6% in English Language Arts on average. The same study revealed that children enrolled in choice programs demonstrated greater proficiency than those in traditional public school by 3.05%.
Further, scholars in the School Choice Demonstration Project (SCDP) applied state-of-the-art matching methods to compare students in the MPCP with students in MPS who were similar in neighborhood, race, and prior achievement. Among the findings from this matching analysis are that students in the MPCP were 4-7 percentage points more likely to graduate from high school. Moreover, students in the MPCP were found to achieve higher scores in reading, though similar scores in math.
Students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program are also more likely to graduate from college. Dr. Will Flanders posits that expanding the Parental Choice Program could lead to substantial economic gains for our state. He estimates that Madison could see $100 million in economic benefits, $75 million for Green Bay, $60 million for Appleton and $24 million for La Crosse.
Other findings from the SCDP, not related to academic achievement, show that students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program have lower incidences of criminal behavior and extensive economic benefits. These programs save taxpayers money and in general provide a better return on their tax investment.
Right now, our Choice Programs are limited to individuals with certain incomes, in some cases those with certain zip codes, and also by enrollment caps. It’s time to lift all of those limitations, and Assembly Bill 970 does that.
It’s time to give all parents, regardless of income or zip code or number of people in their school district, an opportunity to choose the best school for their child.
Education isn’t just about today; it’s about tomorrow—and expanding the Choice Programs means good things for Wisconsin’s future.
Our state’s Parental Choice Programs have been tried and tested now over many years. Studies continue to show students in these programs are, on average, certainly performing no worse than their public-school counterparts and in many cases, are performing not just better, but significantly better. It’s time to give this opportunity to all parents across our state.
Parents alone are responsible for the education of their children. The more educational options parents have, the better, as they seek what is best for their children.
Use this link to find your state legislators and urge them to pass this bill and support parents and school choice in Wisconsin!