When the big labor unions were running those "It's not working" attack ads against Governor Walker earlier this year I was able to pull out my property tax bill and my state income tax return and see that the new budget was indeed "working" But a new set of numbers show that one provision of the Governor's agenda is definitely not working. I'm talking about the School Choice Program.
I have never been a fan of school vouchers--not because of argument from WEAC that it "steals" money from low performing public school districts--but rather because of the First Amendment implications of taxpayer dollars going to religious operations. Now the latest results from the Wisconsin Student Assessment System show that kids who leave the Milwaukee and Racine public schools for the private schools don't do any better on standardized tests--and in many cases actually do worse!
Overall, 49% of kids in the Milwaukee public schools test as at least "proficient" in math (how pathetic is that?). Only 40% of School Choice kids test as "proficient". When it comes to reading comprehension, 58% of MPS students were "proficient" (another depressing number)--while 56% reached the same level in School Choice.
In Racine the numbers are pretty much the same. 62% of public school kids are "proficient" in math--but just 51% of School Choice students test at that level. And in reading comprehension the gap is even bigger--with the public school kids testing out at 69% o"proficient" compared to just 56% for the School Choice students.
This is just the second year that School Voucher students in Milwaukee were compared to their public school counterparts on the standardized test results and the first year that Racine kids were compared. Keep in mind, this is a program that started in Milwaukee in 1990--so we had more than 20-years of non-acountability for a taxpayer-funded program--a fact that should anger all of us who demand the same "proof that it's working" from every other function of state government.
These numbers won't quell the call from those who want to expand School Choice to more districts--or even make it a statewide option. But it is clear to me, that spending an hour of learning about religion every day isn't helping anyone to read better or add correctly.