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Reason Foundation

Given the Choice

A Study of the PAVE Program and School Choice in Milwaukee

Janet R. Beales and Richard W. Wahl
January 1, 1995

Executive Summary

In response to declining student performance in the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), the Wisconsin state legislature and the private sector each created programs to give school choice to low-income students.

In 1990–91 the Wisconsin state legislature implemented the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP). Roughly 750 students received government-funded tuition vouchers in 1993–94 to attend any one of a dozen non-religious private schools in Milwaukee.

In 1992, business and religious organizations joined to establish Partners Advancing Values in Education (PAVE), a privately funded school-choice program for low-income students. Unlike the MPCP, PAVE's tuition scholarships may be used at any private school in Milwaukee, including religious schools. PAVE served roughly 2,370 students enrolled in 102 different private schools during the 1993–94 school year.

Key findings from parent surveys and student-academic records about the PAVE program include the following:

PAVE has dispelled the myth that poor parents don't care about their children's education.

—Mother of PAVE scholarship recipient


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