New data out shows that students in Milwaukee's school choice program performed worse than students in Milwaukee Public Schools in math and reading on the latest WKCE (Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam) test.
The big news for those plugged into the education world, however, was the choice vs. public school results in Milwaukee. MPS results overall showed 59% of students scoring proficient or better in reading, while 47.8% of students scored proficient or better in math.
In the voucher program, 55.2% of students scored proficient or better in reading while 34.4% of students scored proficient or better in math.
The percentage of low-income students in MPS proficient or better in reading – 55.3% – was about the same as the voucher program, which currently serves only low-income students. – jsonline.com
This is revealing data. For years, there has been the cry from choice supporters that "If you just let our kids choose where they want to go, educational performance will improve. It's the FREE MARKET approach to education!"
By the way, if choice schools really worked in the "free market", they wouldn't have to rely on public subsidies to remain viable.
Choice schools have much more lax requirements for teachers, administrators and what services they have to provide to special needs kids, yet still get taxpayer money without having to show they're actually good performing schools.
One of my main problems with "choice" schools is that they've been used as cover for parents who want the taxpayer to pick up the charge of their child's private, often religious, education. Add to that the complete lack of any kind of performance testing in the past and their ability to hire pretty much anyone they want to teach and shut out kids they don't want, and well, I'm not a fan.
So it's interesting to see data finally come out that shows what many people like me have thought to be true for years: despite having the deck stacked in their favor, choice schools are the worst performing schools when it comes to educating children.
Unfortunately, all of this will fall on deaf ears for the reasons I cite above. The refusal to actually acknowledge the findings by the Governor for example, is telling:
"Empowering parents by providing them with additional options will ultimately improve education for all children by encouraging competition," spokesman Cullen Werwie said in an e-mail. "Under Governor Walker's proposal if parents feel that their children will get a better education at an MPS school than at a choice school, they have the freedom to enroll their children in the public school system."
So shorter Walker: "Just give it a bit more time! Who said an entire generation of school children would be enough to know if this whole thing really works! And free markets. Also!"
It's unfortunate that as a taxpayer I have to foot the bill for these under performing schools that have very little accountability. No one in charge seems to care that we're throwing good money after bad when it comes to educating a substantial number of children in Milwaukee.