The real Milwaukee Choice Program funding gap

by James Wigderson | January 30, 2013 11:51 am

Opponents of school choice in Milwaukee complain the program is taking money away from public schools to educate ex-public school students. In an interesting op-ed for, George Mitchell points to the real funding gap[1].

When Governor Doyle was elected in 2002, taxpayer support for schools in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) was $5,783 per pupil. While this was only 52% of the public support for the Milwaukee Public Schools, it was too much for Doyle and allies like Milwaukee Senator Lena Taylor. They set out to starve the program, correctly believing that a fiscal tourniquet would constrain and eventually imperil it.

During the next eight years, taxpayer support for MPS pupils grew 36%, nearly twice the rate of inflation. In the same period, public support for schools in the choice program rose only 11%, well below the rate of inflation. Bottom line: MPS got a real, inflation-adjusted increase while private parental choice schools took a real cut.

As a member of the Joint Finance Committee, Senator Taylor helped shepherd Doyle budgets through the Legislature. She was front-and-center during deliberations on Doyle’s final budget that kneecapped MPCP schools with a cut in per pupil support. By the time Doyle left office, funding for the choice program was only 42% of taxpayer support for MPS, down from 52% in 2002.

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  1. George Mitchell points to the real funding gap:
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