I know that this problem is not unique to Milwaukee, and it’s probably not exclusively the fault of our marketplace, as much as I like to blame it. Comparable urban districts have high mobility rates even without a lot of school vouchers – a quick googling turns up annual figures like 30 percent for Minneapolis, 26 percent in Cincinnati, and a staggering 119 percent in St. Louis one recent year. This compares to the GAO’s finding that, nationally, the number is well under 10 percent.
So I guess that’s my challenge to Erin Richards while on her fellowship. What effect, exactly, does a voucher program and marketplace like here in Milwaukee have on mobility? And more than that, on school spirit and loyalty?
Because if MPS is banking on a strong alumni program to help its high schools, something needs to change in schools now to create those loyal graduates. As long as this city remains a marketplace, I fear that kind of school pride is never coming back.
School pride is irrelevant if students cannot read.