Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dittoing Diane on School Vouchers

Yesterday's release of Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) choice school data is ditto to what Diane Ravitch has been reporting on Wisconsin's voucher program for some time.

America's premier education historian, Diane Ravitch has been building the case that Wisconsin’s “voucher schools perform no better than public schools.”  

For the third straight year since being required to pony up test scores, Wisconsin's voucher schools trail neighboring public schools in reading and math scores and lag significantly behind the state averages in student achievement, according to DPI's reporting.

Ravitch dedicated a big chunk of her landmark book, The Death and Life of the American School System, to the flaws and failures of voucher systems in Wisconsin and elsewhere. Ravitch can add DPI’s 2013 data to her pile of reports showing how Milwaukee's and Racine's voucher schools have seen minimal to no gains in student achievement compared to its neighboring public schools over the past two decades.

Like Prohibition, school vouchers in Wisconsin began, in part, as a noble experiment. The voucher test, however, has lasted nearly twice as long as the failed Prohibition experiment. The noble sentiments have long since past on the voucher program, yet artificial life keeps getting pumped into this flatlining school voucher plan by “wealthy campaign contributors and shadowy electioneering groups.”

Prohibition was a worthless and wasteful government charade in its dying days before repeal. The same is true of the lingering voucher program. As Ravitch recently wrote, “More of the same is no answer. Doubling down on failure is a bad bet."

Ditto, Diane.

It is time to repeal Wisconsin’s voucher program and reinvest in the noblest of ideas--Wisconsin’s public schools.

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