Commentary on K-12 Tax, spending and Outcomes: Kansas City and Madison

2018 – Kansas City Star Editorial: Taylor was blunt in linking educational attainment with dollars spent. “The analysis finds a strong, positive relationship between educational outcomes and educational costs,” Taylor concluded. She also said a 1 percentage point increase in graduation rates is associated with a 1.2 percent increase in costs in lower grades and … Continue reading Commentary on K-12 Tax, spending and Outcomes: Kansas City and Madison

School Funding Rhetoric & Legal Battles; Remember Kansas City’s Spending Explosion…

Samantha Winslow, Alexandra Bradbury Washington teachers waged rolling one-day strikes calling attention to decades of underfunding. Photo: WEA. Lawmakers in Washington state are scrambling to get ready for a special session after the state’s highest court announced it will start charging a penalty of $100,000 per day while legislators continue illegally underfunding the public schools. … Continue reading School Funding Rhetoric & Legal Battles; Remember Kansas City’s Spending Explosion…

Apartheid, just less black and white: ‘Inequality is the new apartheid. “Your life path is largely determined before birth’; Kansas City & Madison per student spending fails to address the gap

Simon Kuper I especially see apartheid in the US. True, the country has made racist speech taboo. Use a racial epithet in public and your career combusts. That’s lovely. However, American school taxes are usually raised locally, and many neighbourhoods are segregated, and so most poor black children attend underfunded schools where they learn just … Continue reading Apartheid, just less black and white: ‘Inequality is the new apartheid. “Your life path is largely determined before birth’; Kansas City & Madison per student spending fails to address the gap

Do School Spending Cuts Matter? Evidence from the Great Recession (2018)

C. Kirabo Jackson, Cora Wigger and Heyu Xiong: Audits of public school budgets routinely find evidence of waste. Also, recent evidence finds that when school budgets are strained, public schools can employ cost-saving measures with no ill-effect on students. We theorize that if budget cuts induce schools to eliminate wasteful spending, the effects of spending … Continue reading Do School Spending Cuts Matter? Evidence from the Great Recession (2018)

Spending More & Getting Less: Here’s why $7 billion didn’t help America’s worst schools

Caitlin Emma: The difference between the schools was in their readiness to make use of the sudden infusion of money. In Miami, school district officials had prepared for the grants. They had the support of teachers, unions and parents. In Chicago, where teachers fought the program and officials changed almost yearly, schools churned through millions … Continue reading Spending More & Getting Less: Here’s why $7 billion didn’t help America’s worst schools

Diminishing Returns in Wisconsin K-12 Education Spending Growth

Tap to view a larger version of these images. Martin F. Lueken, Ph.D., Rick Esenberg & CJ Szafir, via a kind reader (PDF): Robustness checks: Lastly, to check if the estimates from our main analysis behave differently when we modify our models, we conduct a series of robustness checks in our analysis. We estimate models … Continue reading Diminishing Returns in Wisconsin K-12 Education Spending Growth

Getting Tough in Kansas City

Frederick Hess:

Across the nation, districts are only enduring the first phase of what is likely a several-year stretch of tough budgets. Why? First, property taxes account for so much of school spending, residential real estate prices are only now bottoming, commercial properties will be falling into 2011, and states adjust valuation on a rolling basis. This means the impact of the real estate bubble likely won’t fully play out until 2014 or so. Second, thus far, districts have been cushioned by more than $100 billion in stimulus funds. Third, going forward, K-12 is going to be competing with demands for Medicaid, transportation, public safety, and higher education–all of which have been squeezed and will be hungry for fresh dollars when the economy recovers. And, fourth, massively underfunded state and local pension plans will require states to redirect dollars from operations. All of this means that the funding “cliff” looming in 2010 to 2011 is steeper and likely to be with us longer than most district leaders have publicly acknowledged.
Early responses to this situation have been inadequate, to put it mildly. Districts first took out the scalpel and turned up thermostats, delayed textbook purchases, and reduced maintenance. Now they’re boosting class sizes, raising fees, and zeroing out support staff and freshmen athletics. It’s going to take a lot more for districts to thrive in their new fiscal reality. It would behoove them to take a page from the playbook of new Kansas City Superintendent John Covington.

More Discussion on Spending & Education Quality

Ryan Boots: From time to time I’ve mentioned the disastrous Kansas City experiment, which tends to be a rallying point for those who dare to contradict the Kozol doctrine that increased spending will cure all that ails American education. Looks like somebody didn’t get the memo, because we have a Kansas City for the new … Continue reading More Discussion on Spending & Education Quality

Despite pushback, education panel votes to close five schools in de Blasio’s turnaround program

Alex Zimmerman: “They buried us while we were breathing,” said Deidre Walker, a math teacher at J.H.S. 145, a Bronx middle school that will now close at the end of the school year. “The resources weren’t given.” All five schools are part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Renewal initiative, a program designed to flood them … Continue reading Despite pushback, education panel votes to close five schools in de Blasio’s turnaround program

Administration Memo on the Madison Superintendent Search

Dylan Pauly, Legal Services:

Dr. Nerad recently announced his retirement effective June 30, 2013. Consequently, over the next few months this Board will be required to begin its search for the next District leader. While some members of the Board were Board members during the search that brought Dr. Nerad to Madison, many were not. A number of members have asked me to provide some background information so that they may familiarize themselves with the process that was used in 2007. Consequently, I have gathered the following documents for your review:
1. Request for Proposals: Consultation Services for Superintendent Search, Proposal 3113, dated March 19, 2007;
2. Minutes from Board meetings on February 26,2007, and March 12,2007, reflecting Board input and feedback regarding draft versions ofthe RFP;
3. Contract with Hazard, Young and Attea;
4. A copy of the Notice of Vacancy that was published in Education Week;
5. Minutes from a Board meeting on August 27, 2007, which contains the general timeline used to complete the search process; and,
6. Superintendent Search- Leadership Profile Development Session Schedule, which reflects how community engagement was handled during the previous search.
It is also my understanding that the Board may wish to create an ad hoc committee to handle various procedural tasks related to the search process. In line with Board Policy 1041, I believe it is appropriate to take official action in open session to create the new ad hoc. I recommend the following motion:

Dave Zweiful shares his thoughts on Dan Nerad’s retirement.
Related: Notes and links on Madison Superintendent hires since 1992.

Madison Superintendent Art Rainwater’s recent public announcement that he plans to retire in 2008 presents an opportunity to look back at previous searches as well as the K-12 climate during those events. Fortunately, thanks to Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web, we can quickly lookup information from the recent past.

The Madison School District’s two most recent Superintendent hires were Cheryl Wilhoyte [Clusty] and Art Rainwater [Clusty]. Art came to Madison from Kansas City, a district which, under court order, dramatically increased spending by “throwing money at their schools”, according to Paul Ciotti:

2008 Madison Superintendent candidate public appearances:

The Madison Superintendent position’s success is subject to a number of factors, including: the 182 page Madison Teachers, Inc. contract, which may become the District’s handbook (Seniority notes and links)…, state and federal laws, hiring practices, teacher content knowledge, the School Board, lobbying and community economic conditions (tax increase environment) among others.

Superintendent Nerad’s reign has certainly been far more open about critical issues such as reading, math and open enrollment than his predecessor (some board members have certainly been active with respect to improvement and accountability). The strings program has also not been under an annual assault, lately. That said, changing anything in a large organization, not to mention a school district spending nearly $15,000 per student is difficult, as Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman pointed out in 2009.

Would things improve if a new Superintendent enters the scene? Well, in this case, it is useful to take a look at the District’s recent history. In my view, diffused governance in the form of more independent charter schools and perhaps a series of smaller Districts, possibly organized around the high schools might make a difference. I also think the District must focus on just a few things, namely reading/writing, math and science. Change is coming to our agrarian era school model (or, perhaps the Frederick Taylor manufacturing model is more appropriate). Ideally, Madison, given its unparalleled tax and intellectual base should lead the way.

Perhaps we might even see the local Teachers union authorize charters as they are doing in Minneapolis.

Madison School Board rates Superintendent Nerad barely ‘proficient’;

Matthew DeFour:

If Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s job performance were judged like a student taking the state achievement test, he would score barely proficient, according to the Madison School Board’s most recent evaluation.
The evaluation, completed last month and released to the State Journal under the state’s Open Records Law, reveals the School Board’s divided view of Nerad’s performance.
School Board President James Howard said he expects the board to vote later this month on whether to extend Nerad’s contract beyond June 2013. The decision has been delayed as Nerad’s achievement gap plan is reviewed by the public, Howard said.
Soon after that plan was proposed last month, Howard said he would support extending Nerad’s contract. Now, Howard says he is uncertain how he’ll vote.
“It’s probably a toss-up,” he said. “There’s a lot of issues on the table in Madison. It’s time to resolve them. All this kicking-the-can-down-the-road stuff has to stop.”
Nerad said he has always welcomed feedback on how he can improve as a leader.

Related: Notes and links on Madison Superintendent hires since 1992.

Madison Superintendent Art Rainwater’s recent public announcement that he plans to retire in 2008 presents an opportunity to look back at previous searches as well as the K-12 climate during those events. Fortunately, thanks to Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web, we can quickly lookup information from the recent past.
The Madison School District’s two most recent Superintendent hires were Cheryl Wilhoyte [Clusty] and Art Rainwater [Clusty]. Art came to Madison from Kansas City, a district which, under court order, dramatically increased spending by “throwing money at their schools”, according to Paul Ciotti:

2008 Madison Superintendent candidate public appearances:

The Madison Superintendent position’s success is subject to a number of factors, including: the 182 page Madison Teachers, Inc. contract, which may become the District’s handbook (Seniority notes and links)…, state and federal laws, hiring practices, teacher content knowledge, the School Board, lobbying and community economic conditions (tax increase environment) among others.
Superintendent Nerad’s reign has certainly been far more open about critical issues such as reading, math and open enrollment than his predecessor (some board members have certainly been active with respect to improvement and accountability). The strings program has also not been under an annual assault, lately. That said, changing anything in a large organization, not to mention a school district spending nearly $15,000 per student is difficult, as Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman pointed out in 2009.
Would things improve if a new Superintendent enters the scene? Well, in this case, it is useful to take a look at the District’s recent history. In my view, diffused governance in the form of more independent charter schools and perhaps a series of smaller Districts, possibly organized around the high schools might make a difference. I also think the District must focus on just a few things, namely reading/writing, math and science. Change is coming to our agrarian era school model (or, perhaps the Frederick Taylor manufacturing model is more appropriate). Ideally, Madison, given its unparalleled tax and intellectual base should lead the way.
Perhaps we might even see the local Teachers union authorize charters as they are doing in Minneapolis.

Narrowing Madison’s Achievement gap will take more than money

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:

Madison school chief Dan Nerad’s plan to close the district’s achievement gap is certainly bold about spending money.
It seeks an estimated $105 million over five years for a slew of ideas — many of them already in place or attempted, just not to the degree Nerad envisions.
The school superintendent argues a comprehensive approach is needed to boost the academic performance of struggling minority and low-income students. No one approach will magically lift the district’s terrible graduation rates of just 48 percent for black students and 57 percent for Latinos.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Related:

Listen to most of the speech via this 25mb .mp3 file.

Well worth reading: Money And School Performance:
Lessons from the Kansas City Desegregation Experiment
:

For decades critics of the public schools have been saying, “You can’t solve educational problems by throwing money at them.” The education establishment and its supporters have replied, “No one’s ever tried.” In Kansas City they did try. To improve the education of black students and encourage desegregation, a federal judge invited the Kansas City, Missouri, School District to come up with a cost-is-no-object educational plan and ordered local and state taxpayers to find the money to pay for it.
Kansas City spent as much as $11,700 per pupil–more money per pupil, on a cost of living adjusted basis, than any other of the 280 largest districts in the country. The money bought higher teachers’ salaries, 15 new schools, and such amenities as an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an underwater viewing room, television and animation studios, a robotics lab, a 25-acre wildlife sanctuary, a zoo, a model United Nations with simultaneous translation capability, and field trips to Mexico and Senegal. The student-teacher ratio was 12 or 13 to 1, the lowest of any major school district in the country.
The results were dismal. Test scores did not rise; the black-white gap did not diminish; and there was less, not greater, integration.

And, In Kansas City, tackling education’s status quo “We’re not an Employment Agency, We’re a School District”

Selling out public schools: Millions of dollars are changing face of education

Bill Lueders:

“School choice” is a broad term that refers to a wide range of alternatives, including themed charter schools that are entirely under the control of their home school districts. Forty states and the District of Columbia have those in place, according to the American Federation for Children, a national school choice advocacy group.
But it is the voucher programs, in which public funds are used to send children to private schools, that are the focus of much of the energy around the choice movement. Seven states and the District of Columbia have those, and Milwaukee’s voucher program is the first and largest of its kind in the country. That makes Wisconsin a key national battleground.
“Wisconsin has a high level of value to the movement as a whole,” says Robert Enlow, president of the Indianapolis-based Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, a nonprofit group that advocates for school choice. The state, he says, is notable for “the high level of scholarship amounts that families can get.”
Milwaukee’s voucher program had 20,300 full-time equivalent voucher students at 102 private schools in 2010-11, compared to about 80,000 students at Milwaukee’s public K-12 schools. The total cost, at $6,442 per voucher student, was $130.8 million, of which about $90 million came from the state and the rest from the Milwaukee Public Schools.
Critics see the school choice program as part of a larger strategy — driven into high gear in Wisconsin by the fall election of Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans — to eviscerate, for ideological and religious reasons, public schools and the unions that represent teachers.

It would be interesting to compare special interest spending in support of the status quo, vs groups advocating change, as outlined in Bill Lueders’ article. A few links:

  • WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

    How much do election-year firewalls cost to build? For the state’s largest teachers union, $1.57 million.
    That’s how much the Wisconsin Education Association Council said last week it will spend trying to make sure four Democratic state senators are re-elected – enough, WEAC hopes, to keep a Democratic majority in the 33-member state body.
    Although there are 15 Democratic candidates running for the state Senate, and 80 Democrats running for the state Assembly, the latest WEAC report shows that the teachers union is placing what amounts to an “all in” bet on saving just four Democratic senators who are finishing their first terms.
    In an Oct. 25 report to the Government Accountability Board, the 98,000-member union reported that it will independently:

  • Wisconsin teachers union tops list of biggest lobbying groups for 2009-10, report shows

    The statewide teachers union led in spending on lobbying state lawmakers even before this year’s fight over collective bargaining rights.
    The Wisconsin Education Association Council spent $2.5 million on lobbying in 2009 and 2010, years when Democrats were in control of all of state government, a report released Thursday by the Government Accountability Board showed.
    WEAC is always one of the top spending lobbyists in the Capitol and they took a central role this year fighting Gov. Scott Walker’s plan curbing public employee union rights, including teachers.
    Back in 2009, when Democrat Jim Doyle was governor and Democrats controlled the Senate and Assembly, WEAC wasn’t helping to organize massive protests but it was a regular presence in the Capitol.

  • Spending in summer recall elections reaches nearly $44 million

    Spending in the summer’s recall elections by special interest groups, candidates and political action committees shattered spending records set in previous elections, with $43.9 million doled out on nine elections, according to a study released Tuesday by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.
    Spending by six political action committees or special interest groups topped the $1 million mark. We Are Wisconsin was the top spender.
    The union-backed group spent roughly $10.75 million, followed by the conservative-leaning Club for Growth at $9 million and $4 million in spending from the Greater Wisconsin Committee.

  • Kansas City School District Loses its Accreditation

Judge Bars School Tax Increase in Kansas

Stephanie Simon:

A federal judge in Kansas on Friday ruled against a group of suburban parents who sought to put a property-tax increase on the ballot in order to raise funds for their public schools.
Kansas, like a handful of other states, caps the amount of money that local school districts can raise from property taxes, in an effort to enforce a rough parity in spending across the state. Parents in the Shawnee Mission School District, which serves mostly affluent suburbs of Kansas City, sued to lift that cap. They were opposed in court by Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration and a coalition of superintendents representing mostly poor and rural districts.
U.S. District Judge John W. Lungstrum dismissed the case on the grounds that the cap was a crucial and integral part of the state’s complex formula for distributing education funds in a manner meant to ensure that wealthy school districts don’t pull far ahead of poorer districts. “If the plaintiffs were to prevail on their claim that the cap is unconstitutional, the entire [school funding] scheme would be struck down,” Judge Lungstrum wrote.

Forget grade levels, KC schools try something new

Heather Hollingsworth:

Forget about students spending one year in each grade, with the entire class learning the same skills at the same time. Districts from Alaska to Maine are taking a different route.
Instead of simply moving kids from one grade to the next as they get older, schools are grouping students by ability. Once they master a subject, they move up a level. This practice has been around for decades, but was generally used on a smaller scale, in individual grades, subjects or schools.
Now, in the latest effort to transform the bedraggled Kansas City, Mo. schools, the district is about to become what reform experts say is the largest one to try the approach. Starting this fall officials will begin switching 17,000 students to the new system to turnaround trailing schools and increase abysmal tests scores.

Chicago Urban League Lawsuit makes school funding a civil rights matter

via a kind reader’s email. Matt Arado:

Illinois courts refused twice in the 1990s to enter the school-funding debate, saying the matter belonged with state lawmakers, not the judiciary.
The Chicago Urban League, which filed a new school-funding lawsuit against the state this week, believes it can make the courts rethink that position.
The lawsuit characterizes the school-funding question as a civil rights matter, alleging that the current system, which uses property taxes to fund schools, discriminates against low-income minority students, especially blacks and Hispanics.
Using civil rights law should ensure that the courts will hear the case this time around, Urban League Executive Vice President Sharon Jones said.
“Courts have been deciding racial discrimination cases for years,” she said, adding that the Illinois Civil Rights Act of 2003 didn’t exist during earlier school-funding cases.

Maudlyne Ihejirika:

A day after a civil rights lawsuit called the state’s school funding system discriminatory, those who have been battling inequities in the Chicago Public Schools were optimistic, pointing to a historic win in New York.
“The New York suit was successful, and very similar, so we’re hoping that case will set precedent,” said Julie Woestehoff of Parents United for Responsible Education.
As in Illinois, previous suits challenging New York State’s school funding system had failed. But in 1993, a coalition there filed suit alleging for the first time that the system had a “disparate racial impact” based on the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
After 10 years and several appeals, New York’s highest court ruled in 2003 in favor of the plaintiffs. Further appeals by New York’s governor ended with the Court of Appeals upholding the ruling in 2006 and ordering the state to meet a minimum funding figure. That new funding level was finally enacted in April 2007.
Those involved in two previous lawsuits in Illinois said that without the new “disparate impact” claim, the Chicago Urban League’s suit would face bleak prospects.

Links:

Notes and links on funding and education from Kansas City (where a judge ordered a massive spending increase during the early 1990’s and Texas.

Housing Slump Strains Budgets of Cities, States

Amy Merrick: Tremors from the housing market’s slump are straining the budgets of state and local governments from coast to coast, sending officials scrambling to plug gaps. Rising defaults on subprime home loans are boosting the inventory of unsold homes and driving sale prices lower. That’s cutting into housing-related revenues from building-permit fees, taxes on … Continue reading Housing Slump Strains Budgets of Cities, States

Notes and Links on the Madison K-12 Climate and Superintendent Hires Since 1992

Madison Superintendent Art Rainwater’s recent public announcement that he plans to retire in 2008 presents an opportunity to look back at previous searches as well as the K-12 climate during those events. Fortunately, thanks to Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web, we can quickly lookup information from the recent past. The Madison School District’s two most … Continue reading Notes and Links on the Madison K-12 Climate and Superintendent Hires Since 1992

Stossel: How the Lack of School Choice Cheats Our Kids Out of A Good Education

John Stossel: And while many people say, “We need to spend more money on our schools,” there actually isn’t a link between spending and student achievement. Jay Greene, author of “Education Myths,” points out that “If money were the solution, the problem would already be solved … We’ve doubled per pupil spending, adjusting for inflation, … Continue reading Stossel: How the Lack of School Choice Cheats Our Kids Out of A Good Education