Allocating funding per student entails thoughtful discussion

Alan Borsuk:

How much would we spend per student if we wanted to give every child in Milwaukee a real opportunity to get a good education?
I’m sure $6,442 is too low. That’s the amount paid in public money for each student in the private school voucher program. Ask anyone involved in operating such a school, especially when it comes to providing a quality program for older students. Show me a good voucher school, and I’ll show you a good private fundraising operation.
I’m almost as sure it’s not $7,775, the amount provided for students in the charter schools that operate independent of Milwaukee Public Schools. Same reason.
In some cases, it might be in the neighborhood of $9,091, the amount expected to be provided by MPS next year for students in “partnership” schools, generally alternative schools for kids who haven’t thrived in conventional settings. But that’s too low in many cases, also.
How about $13,200? That’s one estimate of what spending per student in MPS is going to work out to be next year. That’s down from around $15,000 this year, by some calculations, largely because of the end of the federal economic stimulus program that brought a short-term surge of money to MPS. Ask most parents in MPS, and they’ll tell you that’s not enough because they are looking toward service cuts and larger classes next year.