By: Will Flanders

The pandemic has emphasized the importance of having many educational options available to families. Private schools, which have been more willing to keep their doors open than public schools throughout the pandemic, are one such critical option. Open enrollment into neighboring districts that may offer an alternative model of education are another one. Yet for far too many families, these options, that best fit the needs of their children, remain out of reach. Instead, families are forced to continue to fund their local public schools with tax dollars, even as they refuse to open at the behest…


By: Cori Petersen

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Education made funding available to state governors to distribute for education purposes. The money is called GEER funds, which stands for Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund. This is similar to the funds governors were authorized to distribute last spring as part of the CARES Act. However, this time around, over half of the funds designated to the governors are to be used for Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS).

This money would indeed be a relief to many private schools across the country, however there is one catch. Governors must apply


By: Will Flanders and Jessica Holmberg

On Dec. 30, amidst the holiday hubbub, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) released the results of a statewide survey of school districts regarding their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey, mandated by the legislature last April, is a window into how all 421 districts in the state responded to the pandemic, including decisions to shut down and the biggest challengers they faced.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the survey is the portion which deals with additional costs and savings to school districts during the pandemic. In light of efforts by DPI…


By: Will Flanders and Kyle Koenen

This week, Republican members of the Assembly put forth a plan to get Wisconsin back to business in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. While there may be reasons to be reticent about passing the entire package, the bill includes a number of key provisions that warrant consideration in some form. Here, we’ll discuss six of the most interesting.

1. Allow Out-of-State Health Care Providers to Practice: As health care providers around the state struggle with staffing shortages due to COVID-19, additional steps should be taken to address this shortfall. This spring, the legislature…


By: Will Flanders

Flying under the radar amidst the continuing pandemic is the news that the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) finally released school-level spending data for Wisconsin’s public schools. Required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), DPI appears to have dragged its feet as long as possible before providing this information to families and taxpayers. The data shows us that contrary to popular belief, there is little correlation between spending and student outcomes.

The data is broken down into several bins. The most important are the federal and state/local bins. These show (appropriately enough) the amount of…


Will Flanders, Research Director

The results for the 2019 administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) have just been released. The NAEP is given to samples of students around the country on a biannual basis and provides the best method for comparing performance among students in different states. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, the story is yet another riff on a tired tune: student achievement is largely stagnant and wide racial achievement gaps persist.

Overall, achievement in Wisconsin remains relatively flat. Scores have moved no more than a point in either direction over the past decade. In some ways, this…


By: Jillian Ludwig

In late July, the University of Wisconsin-Madison joined the rest of the UW System in receiving a waiver from the Board of Regents to suspend ACT and SAT score requirements for admissions in response to COVID-19. The original waiver was set to expire on December 31, 2020, but the university has already opted to extend the suspension until the summer of 2023. This raises suspicions that their choice is not solely due to COVID-19 but a trend spreading throughout higher education.

In the middle of an unprecedented pandemic, flexibility is necessary, but as the UW System’s flagship…


Will Flanders, Research Director

Last week, a Jefferson County Circuit Judge ruled that the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) violated the law when it came to releasing data on the state’s private school choice programs. Along with Jim Bender of School Choice Wisconsin and Matt Kittle of Empower Wisconsin, I served as a plaintiff in this case brought by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL). …


Will Flanders, Research Director

The question of “systemic racism” in policing has been brought home in recent weeks by events in Kenosha Wisconsin. The shooting of Jacob Blake has led everyone from the Governor to the Milwaukee Bucks that policing in this state is fundamentally unfair to African Americans. The basic truth of these statements often goes unquestioned by the news media. But do we have evidence that this is the case?

To answer this question we turn to data collected by the Washington Post. Since 2015, they have built a database on fatal police shootings across the country, including…


By: Will Flanders

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers instituted a statewide mask mandate on July 30. The mandate is likely unconstitutional, as the governor only has the power to declare an emergency declaration for 60 days for a particular crisis, and he already used that power in March. But perhaps an even more important question is whether the mask mandate has had any impact on the spread of the virus that it is purported to help mitigate. With the benefit of time, we can now begin to answer that question.

Photo: Flickr, Roman K

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID symptoms…

Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty

A non-profit law & policy group in Wisconsin. We defend property rights, voting rights, school choice, religious liberty & other ideas conservative.

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