Milwaukee, in the strongly revised opinion of Diane Ravitch, is almost a textbook example for showing that the prediction that the tide of school choice will lift all educational boats is wrong.
"One might wonder about how much (Milwaukee Public Schools) is coming apart at the seams because of the competition," Ravitch said in a telephone conversation. "The competition was supposed to make things better."
A few years ago, Ravitch was a prominent voice for that latter sentiment. But in a way that has caused a stir in education circles nationwide, she now has come down emphatically in the opposite camp when it comes to private school vouchers, charter schools and the testing-based accountability regimen that is at the heart of the No Child Left Behind education law.OK. How come?
Ravitch wrote that she got caught up in the enthusiasm for what choice was expected to accomplish in Milwaukee, but, by the mid-2000s, "I didn't see any evidence that the voucher schools and the charter schools were making public schools better."
Ravitch's observation is fair--MPS has certainly not "improved" since choice (etc.) became available here.
But the "choice (etc.)" schools can NOT "improve" public schools. They can only improve the education of their own students.
And they have.
Only MPS can improve MPS. Not "choice" schools, not charter schools.