MacIver: Questionable Study, Questionable Timing

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A joint study from the conservative MacIver Institute and the anti public school Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice makes the claim that high school dropouts are a burden to taxpayers of Wisconsin. Fair enough. But the source and timing of the study raise some serious eyebrows.Besides being a conservative think tank with a staff of GOP campaign donors, last month MacIver had their credibility tarnished for being disingenuous about their ties to Scott Jensen. And their interest in disrupting the course of public education became apparent when Fred Luber opened his announcement of the group’€™s formation with an anecdote about the group’€™s namesake, John MacIver, wanting to change the way Wisconsin educates its students’€”which, by the way, took place at an American’€™s for Prosperity conservative circus in Milwaukee (keynote speaker: Joe the Plumber).

The study’€™s other sponsor, the Friedman Foundation for Education Choice, makes no bones about being ardently pro-voucher and pro-charter schools. In fact, they’€™re so anti-public school that the study is prefaced with an entire one-page message from the group asking readers not to dismiss the study despite their obvious bias against public schools.

What’€™s especially eyebrow raising about MacIver’€™s (and Friedman’€™s) study is the timing of its release. With Wisconsin’€™s DPI Superintendent election set for next Tuesday, the research sponsored by two conservative groups should be analyzed with serious scrutiny

Conservatives will want you to believe that the answer to students dropping out of high school is to stem the funding of public education in favor of privatized alternatives. The real answer is to invest more in our Wisconsin’€™s excellent public school system to further its success, not to tear it down.

Even MacIver and the Friedman Foundation can’€™t ignore the simple fact’€”and this is even spelled out in the study’€™s opening summary’€”that Wisconsin has one of the highest graduation rates in the country. This is because public education works and Wisconsin knows it.

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Cody currently oversees online communications, web development, and graphic design at One Wisconsin Now & the Institute, having served previously as Deputy Research Director.