In Wisconsin, School Choice Has Unexpected Benefits

4/20/19
from The Daily Signal,
4/19/19:

Elisha Doerr would not have had an opportunity to attend Wisconsin Lutheran High School, a Milwaukee-based private boarding school, if it weren’t for a school choice program. The school’s excellent curricula and the religious community were valuable to Doerr, 18, who now attends Harvard University and is deciding between majoring in government or computer science. Raised in rural Waupun, Wisconsin, with six younger siblings, Doerr’s choice for a superior education in his hometown appeared limited. His parents, who had homeschooled Elisha, looked at Wisconsin Lutheran High School for its religious affiliation, but they needed financial assistance to send their son there.

“With there being seven kids in my family and just having gotten a mortgage on our house that we just moved into,” Doerr said in an interview with The Daily Signal, “it didn’t seem particularly feasible to try to go to a private school that we were hoping to go to without getting some sort of financial support.” Wisconsin Lutheran is one of 129 schools that are part of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, launched in 1990 to provide alternatives to troubled public schools. The program had 28,917 participating students in kindergarten through 12th grade during the 2018-19 school year. Under the program, a school receives a state aid payment on behalf of the eligible student and parent or guardian. Before Doerr could get into the school voucher program, his parents first had to save money in an education savings account to cover his freshman year.

Commonly referred to as the nation’s first modern school choice initiative, the Milwaukee program provides vouchers to students from lower-income families for use in attending private schools.

The result was what Wolf and DeAngelis say is the first research report on the effect of school choice on reducing crime. The report, released Feb. 26 and titled “Private School Choice and Character: More Evidence from Milwaukee,” found an intersection between greater school choice and less crime committed by young adults.

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