voucher schools

Cory Savage (Savage Solutions LLC)

It’s not often that someone builds a brand new school in Milwaukee. But it’s going to happen soon on the south side. St. Augustine Preparatory Academy will open on 5th Avenue, west of Interstate 94,  in summer of 2017.

When Waukesha businessman Gus Ramirez looked at Milwaukee’s educational landscape, he saw a need for better schools.

“About half of the Milwaukee students in all sectors – public, charter and choice – are going to awful schools. Not just bad, but awful schools,” Ramirez reflects. “We’re one of the worst in the country.”

Gov. Walker spent time in New Orleans Monday, touting plans to expand Wisconsin’s school voucher program. Tuesday, the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee will debate his proposal.

While Wisconsin may open its voucher program to more students, not many other states are headed in that direction.

Erin Toner

Thousands of students and hundreds of millions of public dollars that might have gone to Milwaukee Public Schools instead went to private schools in the last quarter century. Still, several MPS schools are showing improvement.

The city's education scene is much more diverse than in 1990, when school choice started here, but overall student achievement has barely budged.

Milwaukee Voucher Program Turns 25: Impact on MPS

Nov 20, 2014
Erin Toner

It’s been 25 years since the Wisconsin Legislature approved a voucher program for the city of Milwaukee. How has it impacted the public school district? 

Marge Pitrof

Nearly all 2,000 students enrolled St. Anthony School on Milwaukee's south side are attending the Catholic K-12 school on a state voucher.

Marge Pitrof

Program advocates insisted competition would raise student achievement citywide. Generally, test scores of Milwaukee voucher and public school students remain low.

Marge Pitrof

The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program is America's longest-running private school voucher program, and it has changed the city's education landscape.

Jeramey Jannene, Flickr

MPS is deciding whether to sell the unused Lee Elementary School building to St. Marcus Lutheran voucher school.


Wisconsin has never required voucher schools to account for their operations as public schools must. Things would change under a bill up for a hearing Thursday at the State Capitol.