Regular readers of the Foundry are probably aware that the federal government’s school voucher program in the nation’s capital, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program, is benefiting students by improving school safety and providing higher academic achievement. We thought you’d probably like to know that they’re finding the same trends in Milwaukee, home to the nation’s longest-standing urban school voucher program.
A recent report from School Choice Wisconsin presented an analysis of the number of calls made to 911 from schools in Milwaukee, similar to a Heritage analysis from last summer written up in The Washington Post. The Milwaukee School Safety report found that choice schools appeared to be relatively safer than Milwaukee’s traditional public schools:
Taking into account enrollment differences, police calls to [Milwaukee public schools] occur at a notably higher rate than at independent charter schools6 or at schools in the [Milwaukee parental choice program]. The [Milwaukee Public School] call rate per pupil in 2007 is more than three times that at schools in the [Milwaukee Parental Choice Program].
In addition, a new report out this week from Dr. John Robert Warren of the University of Minnesota analyzed the graduation rates of students attending high schools in Milwaukee, comparing the graduation rate of students participating in the school voucher program with the graduation rate of students who attend traditional public schools in the city. Warren found that during the 2007-08 school year, 77 percent of students in the school voucher program graduated compared to 65 percent in the traditional Milwaukee public school system. The author urges that we use caution when interpreting these findings given the limits of his study’s design. But it is more emerging evidence of the compelling benefits of school choice.