No Longer the Only Game in Town: Helping Traditional Public Schools Compete

September 2006

This report from the Doing School Choice Right initiative reveals how two markedly different school districts, Milwaukee and Dayton, are confronting the challenges of competition. The competition for students in these cities is real: nearly 25% of students in Milwaukee and almost 30% in Dayton use public dollars to attend schools outside the traditional system. Unlike districts with growing enrollments that can use choice as a pressure valve, Milwaukee and Dayton have experienced declining enrollments for years.

The study offers concrete advice to districts facing similar pressures and explores the barriers that can act as impediments to change. The report concludes with specific guidelines for what districts and individual schools, state policymakers, and philanthropies can do to help traditional public schools adapt successfully to the emerging competitive environment.