NEPC Review: Ripple Effect: How Expanding School Choice Programs Can Lead to More College Graduates and a Stronger Economy (Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, January 2020)
A report from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty claims a chain of benefits will purportedly follow if the current cap on voucher enrollment for the state of Wisconsin is increased from four percent to 20%. The resulting improvement in graduation rates will, the report asserts, result in the employment of more people at higher wages, leading to increased personal wealth and government income of $3.2 billion over 20 years.The obvious failing of this logic is how this projected “ripple effect” will occur. Causal links are weakly explained and lack support. The claims cannot be verified because the methods are not described and, in key areas, the numbers literally do not add up. Other prominent unaddressed issues include social stratification, inequitable selection effects, the cost of running two school systems, and the effects on learning. With a large number of relevant variables at play and the study’s apparent reliance on descriptive methods, interpretations of the data are subjective and untrustworthy, and ultimately, the report offers no assistance to policymakers or others.