October 31, 2007
Looks like Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Alan Borsuk made it only a few sentences deep into this new study from the conservative Wisconsin Policy Research Institute. If he'd read the thing more thoroughly, Borsuk would've realized 1) that the report is not an indictment of choice overall, and 2) that the study doesn't address private schools. But our fearless reporter didn't realize these two points and, consequently, his coverage of the WPRI report focuses on vouchers and beats-up on school choice. What the Journal Sentinel should have reported is that Milwaukee Public Schools is not currently doing a good job of empowering consumers to make effective educational decisions. The study (which, it should be noted, contains lots of methodological shortcomings) shows that only 10 percent of MPS parents consider academic factors and compare two or more schools before choosing one. The report's authors believe MPS must do a better job alerting parents to the wealth of educational options they actually have. Whoever wrote the Journal Sentinel article's headline may be willing, because of these snags, to throw in the towel on choice altogether, but WPRI--and Milwaukee parents, presumably--are not.
"Choice may not improve schools, study says," by Alan Borsuk, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 23, 2007
"The truth about choice in public schools," by George Lightbourn, Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, October 2007