Of all the social media responses to the Wisconsin Badgers outstanding victory over Kentucky in the NCAA semifinal game yesterday, perhaps the most bizarre was this one from Wisconsin School Choice:
Four of five Badger starters went to religious schools. More school choice equals more Badger victories! School Choice Works.
— School Choice WI (@SchoolChoiceWI) April 5, 2015
Seriously? Badger basketball victories are an argument for school choice?
No, this was not dated April 1st. And it probably was tongue in cheek. But it is also absurd — and factually wrong to boot.
First, the facts: Nigel Hayes attended Whitmer High School in Toledo, Ohio, a public high school in the Washington Local Schools District. Josh Gasser attended Port Washington High School, in Port Washington, Wisconsin, a public high school in the Port Washington-Saukville District. The original starting point guard for Wisconsin, Traevon Jackson, attended Westerville South High School in Westerville, Ohio, a public high school in the Westerville City School District. The other three players did attend parochial schools. Bronson Koenig attended Aquinas High School in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, Sam Dekker attended Sheboygan Area Lutheran School, and Frank Kaminsky attended Benet Academy in Lisle, Illinois, a Benedictine college preparatory academy.
The remainder of the Badger team are mainly public school attendees, including key substitutes: Duje Dukan, Deerfield HS, Deerfield, IL; Zak Showalter, Germantown HS, Germantown, WI; Vitto Brown, Bowling Green HS, Bowling Green, OH; Jordan Smith, Orono HS, Orono, MN; Aaron Moesch, Southwest HS, Green Bay, WI; TJ Schlundt, Oconomowoc HS, Oconomowoc, WI and a year at St. John’s Academy in Delafield, WI; Ethan Happ, Rockridge HS, Taylor Ridge, IL; Riley Dearring, Minnetonka HS, Minnetonka, MN; and two private school students: Matt Ferris, Xavier HS, Appleton, WI; and Jordan Hill, LaSalle HS, Pasadena, CA and Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH.
Of the total roster, then, five attended parochial high schools, and eleven attended public high schools.
So does Bo Ryan look for basketball players at parochial high schools in particular? No, he looks for players where there are good basketball programs, and he looks for young men who play on AAU teams. It’s instructive to look at websites like http://www.buckys5thquarter.com or http://wisconsin.scout.com to get an idea of how coaches find players. We know that Bo Ryan looks for players with quality character, but he doesn’t determine that based on the school they attend. Rather he and his assistant coaches evaluate players based on personal interactions with the families and the students themselves, to the extent permissible, on meetings with coaches and so on.
Through their tweet on this subject, as with so many others, School Choice Wisconsin again reveals how much difficulty it has making its case for public support of private schools. Once again, they fail logic.