Politics aside, finding (and keeping) good teachers is at the heart of what schools need

Alan Borsuk:

There are other items in Evers’ proposal that certainly appeal to teachers. Here’s one that has gotten little attention: “The Governor recommends requiring that teachers are provided the greater of 45 minutes or a single class period for preparation time each day.”

Where did that come from? It was an idea pushed by the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state teachers union. Is it a bad idea? Many teachers complain that they don’t have enough time to prepare and collaborate. Experts on the practices in some of the nations around the world getting the best education results (Finland, Singapore and so on) say that giving teachers time to prepare pays off in big ways.

Does more teacher prep time belong in the state budget? That’s debatable, and the future of the idea when it hits reality in the Legislature seems doubtful. But it’s there. Maybe a lot more money for local schools would lead some districts to implement it locally — who knows?

Or how about more spending on low-income students? It is much-too-vividly clear that succeeding with low-income kids takes more than with kids from higher-income homes. Evers’ proposal is to create a “poverty factor” in which low-income children would be counted for 20% more than other children when it came to calculating aid.

This could bring districts such as Milwaukee a lot of money. Might that help teachers succeed in situations where few kids now reach proficiency? But the idea seems almost certain to be a tough sell in the Legislature.

Or providing more money for 4-year-old kindergarten? There are elected officials in both parties in Madison who say money spent on early education is money well spent.

Currently, basic public support for full-day 4-year-old kindergarten is 0.5 or 0.6 of what is paid for kids in any other grade. Evers would raise that to the same as any other grade, starting in the 2020-’21 school year. Would additional money mean teachers could have more resources or staff to help get better results with young kids?