Despite the fact that improvement to the overall educational marketplace is one of the hallmark arguments of advocates for school choice, few evaluations have focused on the supply and demand within the education marketplace in a school choice environment. Because traditional public schools are not subject to the same level of competitive pressures as private schools, we expect that measures of school quality will be more likely to predict closures for private schools than Milwaukee Public Schools.
We answer this question by performing survival analyses using data from public, private and charter schools in Milwaukee from 2005 to 2016. Data on enrollment trends, demographics, and academic performance from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction was combined with data from other sources on school safety and closure. After controlling for several other factors that are likely to impact rates of school growth and closure, we are able to identify several key findings:
Our survival analyses indicates that enrollment losses drive closure in private schools in the MPCP, charter schools, and Public Schools.
Academic achievement only predicts closure for private schools in our sample.
Private and charter schools are safer than traditional public schools.
Families vote with their feet based on academics across all sectors.
Academics and school safety are correlated, indicating that safer schools also tend to be better at shaping student achievement.
Related: “The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”