Removing barriers to school choice would help more low-income kids learn in person

Cori Petersen:

This past fall, many public schools made the decision to go virtual as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this wasn’t the case for most private schools. In fact, according to the National Association of Independent Schools, only 5% of private schools went virtual as of October. This is driving demand for private schools across the country and in Wisconsin.

“I think parents have seen how different schools have responded to the COVID pandemic. Some systems and schools went into a self-protective mode and put student needs in a subordinate place,” said Charles Moore, principal of High Point Christian School in Dane County. “Others stepped into ‘harm’s way’ and delivered in-person education despite the potential dangers.”  

High Point Christian School, with locations in Mount Horeb and Madison, welcomed 57 new families to their school this past fall. Many parents cited their desire for their children to learn in person as the main reason for coming to the school. But as we celebrate National School Choice Week this week, it’s important to consider ways to expand access to the choice programs so that low-income families can send their children to an in-person, private school if they so desire. Reforms that would make choice more accessible are longer enrollment periods, allowing children to enter the parental choice programs at any point in time — no matter what grade they are in — and eliminating enrollment caps. 

High Point Christian School is part of the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP). This means there are vouchers available for students whose families make below 220% of the federal poverty limit to attend High Point, and other participating schools, at no cost.   

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 


The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

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