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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Choice saves millions in Milwaukee

Milwaukee’s school voucher program will save taxpayers half a billion dollars in the long term, writes Jason Crye, executive director of Hispanics for School Choice.

Graduation rates are higher for Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) participants compared to comparable students who attended district schools, notes a Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty study by William D. Flanders and Corey DeAngelis. Crime rates are lower.

By 2035, because of higher high school graduation rates, students who use a voucher in the MPCP will generate $473 million economic benefits to Wisconsin more than similar students at MPS. Graduating from high school is associated with being more likely to earn a higher income throughout life – which results in more tax revenue, less likely to need expensive, government-funded medical care, and a lower likelihood of being reliant on welfare. By 2035, in total, because of less crime committed, students who use a voucher in the MPCP will generate $26 million more economic benefit than similar students at MPS.

In addition to higher test scores and graduation rates at MPCP schools, intangibles such as “a greater ability to instill moral values and the fostering of more positive learning environments likely play a role” in students’ long-term outcomes, the study concluded.

More than 90 percent of students at St. Marcus School Lutheran School come from low-income families using a MPCP voucher. Ninety percent go on to graduate from high school.

St. Marcus Lutheran School is trying to find space for more students.

In 2013, St. Marcus tried to buy “an empty public school building with an assessed value of $880,000,” writes Crye. “But the City of Milwaukee required a $1.3 million fee in addition to the purchase price. . . to cover the ‘cost’ to the community of students leaving Milwaukee’s traditional schools.” That killed the deal.

“Over the next 20 years, children at St. Marcus Lutheran School will generate a total benefit of about $7 million due to the school’s low incarceration rate and $64 million due to a high graduation rate,” write Flanders and DeAngelis. The use of that empty building would have doubled enrollment and “doubled the benefit.”

The school is expanding at one of its sites in hopes of raising enrollment from 860 to 1,120 students.

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