"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, October 07, 2007

17 Years Into the Failed Milwaukee Voucher Experiment

A clip from the Capital Times:

. . . . We say vouchers for private or religious schools give black children here more choice. But they really only give that choice to students who are highly motivated or who have highly motivated parents.

So first, we have the problem of what the removal of the most successful and motivated black students does to the educational atmosphere for those less fortunate left behind in public schools.

Second, vouchers deny choice to students who have special educational needs or behavioral problems. When parents use vouchers to try to send those children to private schools, after their children have been counted for purposes of state aid, voucher schools send those kids packing back to public schools.

Third, there is no real evidence that even the black children who are deemed acceptable to private and religious schools do any better once they get into those schools.

Although the Wisconsin experiment with vouchers is nearly two decades old, it was only to win the most recent expansion of the program that voucher supporters agreed to any testing at all of children in voucher schools.

If any political leaders really cared, they would advocate pulling the plug on a 17-year failed experiment that appears to be doing more harm than good, producing the lowest reading scores in the nation.

Then we could put those millions of dollars into Wisconsin public school classrooms, where they are desperately needed to teach the overwhelming majority of black students how to read.

Joel McNally of Milwaukee writes a weekly column for The Capital Times.

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