ON-Lion Letter

A three-year review of police calls to school addresses in Milwaukee released in September by School Choice Wisconsin (SCW) reveals a dramatic difference in the frequency and severity of police contacts between school sectors.  On nearly every measure, the per-student violations were far higher in the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) system than in both private schools in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) or independent charter schools.

"School culture matters," according to SCW president Jim Bender.  "A safe learning environment is a critical factor for parents.  Nobody wants to see flashing lights in front of their child's school."

With an ongoing conversation around school accountability and the state's report card, there have been many general references to school safety.  For Milwaukee, the SCW report adds details and depth to that discussion and highlights the conditions that parents already know exist.

"Parents are right to demand safe schools -- they are better environments for learning," Bender said.  "Unfortunately, in Milwaukee, many schools have a high rate of visits from police."

When compared by school size and grade, MPCP and charter schools had fewer police calls then MPS, the review finds.  Adjusted for enrollment, MPS schools had 27 times more on-site juvenile arrests than MPCP schools, five times as many violence-related calls as MPCP, and over three times as many violence-related calls as charter schools.

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports SCW.

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