Marquette Warrior: Wisconsin: Ahead of the Curve on School Choice

Monday, April 28, 2008

Wisconsin: Ahead of the Curve on School Choice

A press release from the pro-free market Heartland Institute.
(Chicago, Illinois - April 24, 2008) Parents hoping to wrest control of their children’s futures away from education bureaucrats and politicians should consider moving to Wisconsin, a new “report card” from The Heartland Institute suggests. They should avoid Montana or Washington State.

Choice & Education Across the States ranks state efforts to increase accountability and improve student achievement with four kinds of school choice: vouchers, charters, tax credits, and public school choice.

“School choice programs give parents the power to decide where their children are schooled,” notes author Michael Van Winkle. “School choice is accountability. When parents have the power to remove their children from a school that is failing them, without financial penalty, they and their children are better served.”

With 23 being the highest possible score on Van Winkle’s evaluation, the median score was just five points. West Virginia and five other states scored only two points each, while Washington and Montana racked up a mere single point.

Arizona and Florida achieved scores of 15 and 14, respectively--grades of A in Van Winkle’s curved grading system.

Arizona and Florida offer parents strong voucher, charter school, and scholarship tax credit programs. All of the other top-ranking states--Wisconsin, Ohio, Utah, Minnesota, and Georgia--offer vouchers and charters, but none offers scholarship tax credits as well.

The lowest-ranking states offer only public school choice, generally in the form of magnet schools or open enrollment across school districts. Of West Virginia and the other seven lowest-ranking states--Montana, Washington, Alabama, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota--only Oklahoma offers any form of choice other than public school choice. Oklahoma has a charter school program.

“Many states are experimenting with choice as a way to provide a quality public education,” Van Winkle added. “A few states, like Arizona and Florida, are innovating at an impressive pace, willing to try new and better ways to educate children. Other states are not keeping pace and seem committed to preserving the largely choice-free status quo.”

Choice & Education Across the States is available for free online.

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