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Report: School Choice could add $3.2 billion to Wisconsin economy

Empower Wisconsin | Jan. 28, 2020 

By M.D. Kittle 

MADISON — The growth of Wisconsin’s school choice programs could bring $3.2 billion in new economic benefits over the next two decades, according to a new study by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL). 

“Ripple Effect,” authored by WILL research director Will Flanders, builds upon a recent study which documented how students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program are more likely to graduate from college. Noting that college graduates generally earn more than those who don’t get a college degree, the report extrapolates the economic gains to the Badger State if the parental choice programs were expanded. 

“This new study shows if policymakers in Madison continue to help expand school choice, it will not only help children, but it can lead to economic gains for the state,” Flanders said in a release. 

The report was released Monday, on the first day of National School Choice Week, and a day before Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Madison for the School Choice Showcase hosted by Hispanics for School Choice. 

Studies have shown that students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program are 38 percent more likely to have graduated from a four-year college than similar students who attended a traditional public school. 

WILL’s latest report estimates a 20 percent increase in voucher enrollment would lead to about $3.2 billion in increased consumer spending plus local and state taxes.

In 2013, Wisconsin expanded its voucher program statewide. The Wisconsin Parental Choice Program’s enrollment had surged to 9,764 students in 254 private schools across the state as of last fall. Milwaukee’s school choice program was approaching 30,000 students. 

“If lawmakers can expand Wisconsin’s parental choice programs—through cutting red-tape, raising the income limits, and eliminating enrollment caps—more low-income children can graduate from college. This will create a ripple effect of economic benefits that will reverberate throughout the state,” the report asserts. 

Read more about the report’s findings here. 

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