If implementing a pa…
If implementing a particular program in the public schools brought the graduation rate from 36 percent to 64 percent, would you want it implemented in your district? Then get ready for school vouchers. And if you’re still unsure about them, ask Milwaukee.

When Milwaukee’s voucher program began, opponents prophesied disaster for the district. But it seems in fact to be doing better, according to a report last year from the American Education Reform Council. Though 12,900 students used vouchers last year (the program is capped at 15 percent of district enrollment) total enrollment increased 5.7 percent from 1990 to 2003. Test results improved. The dropout rate _ the official dropout rate, that is _ fell from 16 percent to 9 percent. And real spending per student, adjusted for inflation, rose from $8,520 to $11,772.

Two years ago, Andrekopoulos wrote to U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, “I think you will find Milwaukee Public Schools an especially interesting urban school district because our highly competitive market for school enrollment has made us very eager to give parents and children information and options in the neighborhoods where they live.”

Vouchers created the competition. They work.

I wrote an essay a few years ago knocking the Clinton administration’s view of school vouchers, that comes to precisely the same conclusion for precisely the same reason. What would be even better, instead of filtering school money through the federal system–where bureaucrats still skim their portion off and where religious schools give “separation of church and state” folks heartburn–would be to just let me keep my own money to pay for the school of my choice.

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