A self-proclaimed grassroots think tank has released a report that analyzes the effect child poverty has on educational achievement in Wisconsin schools. It finds that public schools outperform charter schools despite the higher number of poor children who attend public schools.
The report released by Forward Wisconsin takes the data from the statewide school report cards produced by the Department of Public Instruction and adjusts them by including child poverty statistics for each school. The results show that nearly half the variation in the state report card results can be explained by the number of poor children attending those schools. Scott Witkopf is the author of the study. He says the results show public schools are doing a better job than charter schools despite the fact they are teaching a larger number of economically disadvantaged children, "Contrary to assumptions that non-traditional charter schools would be more effective through creating competitive choice. Wisconsin's public schools significantly out-performed charter schools overall. This finding was especially evident in schools with high poverty enrollment."
State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout says the report will help fuel the debate in the legislature this year when education funding bills are expected to be introduced, "We will see a return of a discussion of the choice program beyond Racine and Milwaukee area, and we will likely see changes in the charter school law."
She predicted the most contentious debate will likely center around providing scholarship funds to special needs students who choose to attend charter schools.