Politics and reduced school choice: Wisconsin Democrat Party Edition

Will Flanders:

Recently, a group of Democrats in the state legislature that includes well-known school choice opponents Chris Larson and Kelda Roys announced a set of bills that would effectively bring educational choice in Wisconsin to an end.  Despite growing public support that includes more than 70% of Wisconsinites overall and even a majority of Democrats, these legislators would see the state move in a different direction.  There is no need for equivocation: these bills would bring school choice to an end for Wisconsin families. But that is not the only negative outcome. Below, we highlight the major implications of these bills, and why they are wrongheaded.  


Under LRB-4295, new private schools would be prohibited from entering the state’s school choice programs, and no new students would be allowed to enter—leading to an end to the programs over time. More than 48,000 students across Wisconsin rely on the Milwaukee, Racine, and Wisconsin Parental Choice programs to fund their education. All of these families are below 300% of the federal poverty limit. Outside of Milwaukee and Racine, they are all below 220% of the federal poverty limit. The majority of these families come from minority backgrounds as well. The chart below shows the share of participants who are black or Hispanic using the most recent report card data in comparison to public school percentages.