Benefits of School Choice

5 Key Benefits

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Better or equivalent educational experience

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Cost Effectiveness

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Improved Mental Health of Students

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Higher likelihood of college admission, and college graduation

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General societal benefit (Reduced levels of crime, higher likelihood of students achieving middle class income levels, higher likelihood of general happiness)

Research

One of the first studies demonstrating the benefit of the MPCP was conducted by researchers from both Harvard and the University of Texas – Austin in 1999. They concluded that students who were exposed to the MPCP saw increases in both math and reading achievement levels (Green, Peterson, and Du, 1999).

The non-profit group EdChoice analyzed research from 169 empirical studies on school choice programs – including voucher programs, tax-credit scholarship, and education savings accounts. Of the 169 studies, 158 of them demonstrated either a positive or neutral visible effect on students’ educational experience.

In total, 27 full academic studies have been conducted in Wisconsin, dating back to the advent of the Milwaukee Parental Choice program.

Additionally, analysis of the statewide report card of schools that accept public money in Milwaukee, the most diverse district in the state, finds charter and choice schools typically outperform traditional public schools, and historically marginalized students are often the greatest beneficiaries of the choice program.

The School Choice Demonstration Project, a nationally recognized group comprised by the US Department of Education, produced 35 separate reports from 20-years worth of data regarding the MPCP program.

Proficiency

According to Alan Borsuk, columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Only 19% of students listed as economically disadvantaged were considered proficient or better in English language arts. However, among Milwaukee students using vouchers, the proficiency rate was 21%”.

While there is still a long way to go, this statistic demonstrates how the MPCP can begin to help disadvantaged students become proficient in basic English skills moving forward.

Cost Effectiveness

In a study conducted in March of 2020, research analyzed the cost-effectiveness of Wisconsin’s school choice programs through the state. Findings show that school-choice programs are between 29-30% more cost-effective than traditional public schools.

Traditional School

The average cost of educating a traditional Wisconsin public-school student is $14,737.

School Choice Program

According to the Wisconsin Department of Instruction, “state aid payment for a student enrolled full-time in the Parental Choice Program in grade K-8 is $8,336 and $8,982 for a student enrolled full-time in grades 9-12.

Not only does school choice offer a positive learning environment for students at a school that works best for them, it also provides these experiences at a more efficient cost to taxpayers.

Mental Health Benefits

According to the Department of Public Instruction, research proves there is a significant connection between social-emotional development, academic achievement, and mental health.

In a study titled “The Effect of School Choice on Mental Health”, research showed that private schools and choice programs lower the likelihood that individuals report having mental health issues when they develop into adults.

Additionally, findings conclude that because students can attend a school that best suits their needs, or avoid bullying and aggressive behaviors at other schools, school choice improves mental health.

COLLEGE ATTAINMENT

When comparing groups of Milwaukee Public School and MPCP students, findings suggest that MPCP students outperform public school students in college attainment (Wolf, White, and Brian, 2019).

COLLEGE GRADUATION

In research conducted by the Urban Institute, findings show that students participating in the MPCP program are more likely to attend college and last longer in the school they attend.

Additional research shows that of those students who go to college, MPCP students also graduated from four-year colleges at a 38% higher rate than traditional public-school students (Chingos, Kuehn, Monarrez, Wolf, and White, 2019).

HIGHER LIKELIHOOD OF BECOMING MEMBERS OF THE MIDDLE CLASS

Because students participating in school choice programs are more likely to achieve a college diploma, they are more likely to be employed and more likely to earn a higher income as a result.

The average college graduate earns $78,000 a year compared to $45,000 earned by someone who only achieved a high school diploma.

Those who achieve a bachelors degree also are more likely to stay employed during economic recessions as well as are more likely to have stronger employer benefits, such as health care coverage.

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REDUCTION IN CRIME

Using a combination of Wisconsin Circuit Court data and student information from the Department of Instruction, researchers have shown that those who participate in Parental Choice Programs in greater length commit less crimes.

Research shows that students who have participated in the MPCP for at least 4-5 years had a reduction in criminality rates of “75% for felonies, 56-78% for misdemeanors, and 21-50% for any criminal accusations” (DeAngelis and Wolf, 2016).

Additional research shows that simply exposing a student to a private school environment is associated with a lower general crime rate (DeAngelis and Wolf, 2019).

This article was selected by the Journal of Private Enterprise as the best academic article of 2021.

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OVERALL GENERAL HAPPINESS

According to studies conducted by Princeton University and Nobel Prize winning economists, happiness does increase with wealth.

However, the level of happiness increases plateaus around 75,000 dollars per year. This is right in line with the average income for a college graduate.

Fiscal Impact

With a reduction in crime, increased mental health, and a lower cost to educate students, researchers looked to examine the fiscal impact of all these benefits on the state. Using MPCP as a model, they found that the economic savings of school choice programs measure in the hundreds of millions (Flanders and DeAngelis, 2018).