U of A Study: School Choice Works!

ImageIn what the Wall Street Journal labeled “The Year of School Choice,” 2011 saw the continued growth of one of the country’s most prominent systems of school choice: The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP).

A report released last week by the University of Arkansas details some of the amazing accomplishments of MPCP:

  • Enrolling in a private high school through MPCP increases the likelihood of a student graduating, enrolling in a four-year college, and persisting in college by 4 to 7 percentage points.
  • Tracking MPCP and public-school students over four years, researchers found that MPCP outperform in reading and have similar results in math.
  • Countering arguments that MPCP students are already high-achieving, researchers found that between 7.5 and 14.6 percent have a disability and many come to MPCP schools one to two years behind academically.

The study also uncovered that the MPCP system brings numerous external benefits to the state:

  • Students who remained in public schools were performing at higher levels due to competitive pressures from voucher schools.
  • Because the state-provided vouchers are less than the average cost of educating a student, the government realizes education savings (nearly $52 million in fiscal year 2011).
  • The MPCP has had no discernible effect on the racial segregation of schools or housing costs across neighborhoods.
  • The MPCP system does not create barriers to school switching between public and voucher schools — students continue to exercise high levels of educational mobility.

You can read the complete report from the U of A’s Patrick J. Wolf here.

This is great intellectual ammunition for activists & legislators in our state who are prepping for a school choice battle in the 2013 Arkansas legislative session.  Arm yourself with the facts!  And pray that Pat Wolf doesn’t lose his job.

Nic Horton

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