At the National Press Club last week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that he opposed school choice: â€œLet me explain why. Vouchers usually serve 1 to 2 percent of the children in a community. . . . But I donâ€™t want to save 1 or 2 percent of children and let 98, 99 percent down.â€ It was a bizarre statement: Why not simply let more than 1 or 2 percent enjoy the benefits of school choice? In Milwaukee, they actually do. Itâ€™s the largest urban school-choice program in the country, dwarfing the size of the one in Washington, D.C., whose de-funding by congressional Democrats has drawn so much criticism. Roughly one in five of Milwaukeeâ€™s school-age children receive vouchers. All of them must fall below an income threshold. Researchers say that the program is beginning to show systemic effects. In other words, it doesnâ€™t merely help its participants. It also gives a lift to non-voucher students because the pressure of competition has forced public schools to improve.
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