Another criticism of expanded choice asserts that government schools will be left with the poorest performing, most difficult to educate students—the intractable, the unfocused, the "impossible" individuals. Evidence gathered from school choice programs has not supported this assertion. In the case of the Milwaukee Choice Program, the "skimming" of only "good" or "desirable" students has not taken place. John Witte, who completed several evaluations of the Milwaukee Choice Program, observed that the program seemed to provide an alternative educational environment for students who were not succeeding in the traditional public school. Although Witte’s review of the choice program in Milwaukee is not completely positive, he nevertheless acknowledges that students who were not "making the grade" could always find a place where they were welcome and free to succeed.31 Most schools participating in choice programs, whether they are private, public, or charter schools, seem eager to convey the message long ago inscribed on the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breath free . . ."32

Indeed, even The New York Times now recognizes that choice programs offered to economically poor students help them achieve more and pressure the public school system to improve:

Desperate to find a remedy for failing schools, several states are considering voucher experiments that would offer low-income students private-school scholarships at public expense. . . . A study of the longest-running experiment in Milwaukee suggests that vouchers can improve the prospects of the poorest and least prepared students. . . . More work needs to be done to see if the gains are sustained. But the Milwaukee data should serve notice on the teachers’ union—and large, urban districts everywhere—that if the schools do not improve quickly, vouchers could become irresistible.33

Also Available As