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Education Options Should Be Expanded, Not Shut Down

Choice & Independent Charter Schools Equip Workforce

A lawsuit recently filed with the Wisconsin Supreme Court seeks to end the state’s school choice and independent charter programs.

Thousands of Wisconsin families would be devastated and the entire education system disrupted if the school choice and charter programs were to end. Wisconsin, home to the first school choice program in the nation, currently has over 50,000 students enrolled in programs across the state. These students outperform their public school peers on standardized test scores, despite economic and socioeconomic disadvantages.

Choice and independent charter schools help students break the cycle of poverty and achieve their dreams.

Employers have made it abundantly clear that they need students graduating with both the hard and soft skills to succeed in a career. Unfortunately, nearly three-quarters of Wisconsin businesses say the public K-12 system is not preparing students for the workforce – not surprising given that roughly six in 10 students cannot read or do math at grade level. That is why the business community and a large majority of voters support school choice and charter school options.

According to a recent poll, 67 percent of likely Wisconsin voters support school choice, including a majority of republicans, independents and democrats.

WMC Foundation recently released a new Wisconsin 2035 report, Educating our Future, detailing Wisconsin’s state of education and highlighting best practices to improve student success.

While funding for public education has increased by 44 percent since the 2013-15 state budget – rising from $10.74 billion a decade ago to $15.45 billion today, student achievement has actually decreased. Prior to the pandemic, 41 percent of students were proficient in English language arts and 43 percent were proficient in math. Those have dropped to 39 percent and 41 percent, respectively.

The report notes that the 65,000 students who attend Wisconsin choice and independent charter schools have better academic outcomes than their public school peers.