Limited as the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program is–enrolling only 1,650 of the city’s 70,000 school children–it has had a profound effect on the Milwaukee Public School System, according to New York Times columnist Brent Staples:
In Milwaukee, the threat of expanded competition has worked precisely as Milton Friedman predicted. A system that once treated parents with contempt has begun to answer their calls and embrace local experiments through a charter school and other partnerships with community groups. A city that once rebuffed requests for public Montessori schools now has them. Said John Gardner of the Milwaukee school board: “A system that has been arrogant and indifferent for 20 years has suddenly got religion.”
According to the Center for Education Reform, Gardner also believes that, without the voucher program, the school board would never have implemented higher standards, rigorous testing in the basics, and more demanding teacher evaluations.