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Commentary On Madison’s Ongoing Tax And Spending Growth; $494,652,025 Budget Spends Nearly $20k Per Student (Voucher schools operate on 60% less….)



Amber Walker:

On Monday night, in a 7-0 decision, the Madison School Board approved the district’s $494,652,025 preliminary all-funds budget for the 2017-2018 school year.

The Madison Metropolitan School District highlighted it’s balanced operating budget — representing $390,045,697 of the total funds — will result in a $15 per hour minimum wage for the district’s lowest-paid employees, a teacher starting salary of $41,096, an average 3.25 percent increase in across-the-board raises for staff and $5 million dollars in priority actions aimed at narrowing achievement gaps and raising student achievement.

The remainder of the budget — $104,606,328 — is used to fund construction projects, debt service, and food service costs across the district.

Props to Amber for leading with total spending.

The “no flexibility” statement below is incorrect. One can (mostly) restructure debt, change facility requirements and food practices.

Taxpayers fund all of this, so a complete picture is useful.

Karen Rivedal:

The board on Monday also approved what’s known as its “all-funds” budget, at $494,652,025, which includes the proposed operating budget. This fund captures all budget activity, including construction, food service and debt service, for which there is no flexibility in spending.

Not counting Mertz’s amendment, the total spending plan representing a balanced budget raises property taxes by an estimated 3.97 percent. The owner of a $258,367 home — considered average by the district — will pay a projected $3,108, an increase of $74 over the prior year.

District budget director Mike Barry said the district could know by July how much the $74 average increase could rise, as a result of Mertz’s amendment.

Madison spends more than most ( budget details here ), despite long term, disastrous reading results.

Wisconsin per student voucher data




Pro Choice: Vouchers, per student spending and achievement



The Economist:

This is not the end of the story for vouchers, however. In both Milwaukee and Washington, voucher schemes get similar results to the public schools but with much less money. Under the DC scheme, each voucher is worth $8,500 a year, compared with $17,500 to educate a child in the public school system. In Milwaukee the difference is smaller but still amounts to several thousand dollars. Another consistent finding from voucher schemes is that parents like being given a choice, which explains why vouchers, once granted, are hard to take away.

Though Milwaukee’s experience overall has been mixed it still has lessons for elsewhere. If one includes private schools, charter schools and open enrolment at public schools (which means parents may enroll their children in a school that is not in the neighbourhood where they live), around 40% of parents in Milwaukee exercise some kind of choice over their children’s education, an unusually high share. With so much competition, it is hard for any school to grow complacent. There are good public, private and charter schools and bad ones, too. Some private schools do very well with poor black and Hispanic children, others fail them and yet manage to stay in business, which suggests that even with lots of parents choosing there is a need for an authority than can close the bad schools down.

The proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, rejected by a majority of the Madison School Board.

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

An interview with Henry Tyson.

A focus on adult employment.




Test scores improve for Milwaukee voucher schools (spending about 45% less per student), but still lag public schools;



Carrie Antlfinger:

Students who received vouchers to attend private or religious schools in Milwaukee improved their performance in mathematics and reading last year but still lagged behind public school students, according to a report released Tuesday.
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction found that in the second year of testing last fall, about 40 percent of Milwaukee voucher students showed they were proficient or advanced in math, up nearly 6 percent from last year. Nearly 49 percent of local public school students and 78 percent of public school students statewide reached that mark.

Related: Comparing Milwaukee Public and Voucher Schools’ Per Student Spending: Though not perfect, I think $13,063 (MPS) and $7,126 (MPCP) are reasonably comparative per-pupil public support numbers for MPS and the MPCP.




Comparing Milwaukee Public and Voucher Schools’ Per Student Spending



Mike Ford

I find discussions of the per-pupil funding level of different types of Milwaukee schools usually turns into a debate on how to make a true apples-to-apples comparison of per-pupil support for the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) and the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP). While basic differences in MPS and MPCP schools and their cost-drivers make any comparison imperfect, the following is what you might call a green apples to red apples comparison.
DISCLAIMER: if you not interested in school funding, prepare to be bored.
Per-pupil support for MPS
Note I am not trying to calculate per-pupil education funding or suggest that this is the amount of money that actually reaches a school or classroom; it is a simple global picture of how much public revenue exists per-pupil in MPS. Below are the relevant numbers for 2012, from MPS documents:
…….
Though not perfect, I think $13,063 (MPS) and $7,126 (MPCP) are reasonably comparative per-pupil public support numbers for MPS and the MPCP.




Apples to Apples; Comparing Wisconsin public, charter, and private voucher schools



Will Flanders:

It’s an unfortunate reality that demographic factors historically play a large role in student performance; any honest assessment of how schools and school sectors are performing must take those factors into account. Much of the reporting on school performance, though, ignores this reality. This report endeavors to incorporate these factors through rigorous statistical modeling that controls for, and assesses the impact of, several student characteristics. This report has been updated to include data from the 2022-23 report cards.

Among the key findings:

  • Students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program continue to outperform their public school peers. Proficiency rates in private choice schools were about 8.6% higher in English/Language Arts (ELA) and 7.0% higher in math on average than proficiency rates in traditional public schools in Milwaukee.
  • Charter school students in Milwaukee continue to outperform their public school peers. District charters saw 6.9% and 6.6% higher proficiency in ELA and math respectively than traditional public schools.
  • Statewide, choice students outperform their public school peers in ELA. Proficiency rates were about 5.4% higher in ELA for students participating in school choice statewide than traditional public school students. No difference was found in math performance.
  • Wisconsin continues to struggle with its achievement gaps. Statewide, a school with 100% low-income students would be expected to have proficiency rates 40.6% lower in ELA and 44.0% lower in math compared to a hypothetical school with zero low-income students. For African American students, that gap is 17.8% in ELA and 20.3% in math. Hispanic students have an achievement gap of approximately 6.3% in math, but no significant gap was found in ELA.
  • Choice and charter schools are more efficient with taxpayer money. Once the demographics of students in the schools are taken into account, choice and charter schools earn more proficiency per $1,000 of spending than traditional public schools in both Milwaukee and the state as a whole.
  • Choice schools offer more value added. 12 of the top 20 schools in the state where student performance exceeds expectations based on demographics are in the state’s choice programs.
  • Rural schools perform worse than schools in any other type of geography. On average, proficiency in Wisconsin’s rural schools is significantly lower in both ELA and math than urban, suburban, or town schools.

Commentary.

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Sources of isomorphism in the Milwaukee voucher school sector



Michael R Ford and Fredrik O Andersson

In this article, 25 years of data are utilized from nonprofit schools operating in the United States’ oldest and largest private school voucher program to test theories of isomorphism. We find that startup and religious schools belonging to an umbrella organization such as an archdiocese are particularly likely to serve similar student bodies at similar costs. In addition, we find that isomorphic pressures increase the longer a school participates in the Milwaukee voucher program, and that increased program regulation is related to increased sector isomorphism. The results illustrate the difficulty of using New Public Management style reforms, at scale, to encourage a diversity of nongovernment providers to provide a service traditionally provided by the public sector. The results will be of interest to scholars studying nonprofit institutional theories, school choice, and New Public Management style reforms.

Jill Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Evers criticizes lawsuit seeking to end the Milwaukee voucher program



Molly Beck:

Gov. Tony Evers says he opposes abolishing the state’s oldest school voucher program through a lawsuit filed by some of the governor’s strongest supporters.

Evers, a former state superintendent and public school educator, said eliminating the taxpayer-funded voucher system in Milwaukee could have “traumatic” effects on the nearly 30,000 students who attend more than 100 private schools with the subsidies.

“It wasn’t just created yesterday. It was created decades ago, and I think ending it in such a way is going to be traumatic to a whole bunch of families and kids,” Evers said in an interview with the Journal Sentinel.

“It’s not that I think I’m a huge supporter of the vouchers but I also understand that uprooting the lives of a whole bunch of kids is not the way to address it. I’m not sure what the way to address it is right now, but just saying ‘Boom — it’s over,’ that’s going to be a problem.”

Evers also said it would likely be difficult for Milwaukee Public Schools to absorb tens of thousands of students quickly.

—-

More.

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




School choice triumph: Report card analysis shows voucher schools out-perform public schools



Nicholas Kelly:

Education was a big winner of a bipartisan agreement in the recently enacted state budget. Public schools will receive an increase of more than $1 billion. Per pupil spending for Wisconsin’s private school choice programs will grow by $2,000 to $3,000 per student. 

Even after these historic funding increases, state payments to schools in the parental choice programs will still be less than 70 percent of the funding per student that public schools receive.

With the substantial new education spending, what’s the bang for the buck? What’s the return to Wisconsin taxpayers from their investments in public schools and the parental choice programs? At School Choice Wisconsin, we wanted to find out.

Our approach relied on publicly available data at the Department of Public Instruction’s website. To measure results, we used DPI Report Cards, which provide a comprehensive assessment of how the agency ranks public schools and schools in the choice programs. To measure funds invested, we used DPI data on per pupil public school revenue and state payments for pupils in the choice programs.

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Data Point Commentary on Growth in Wisconsin Taxpayer K-12 Spending



Rory Linnane:

To address some of the gaps in funding between districts, lawmakers previously set a minimum allowance for each school district, allowing them to collect at least $10,000 per student since 2020. As part of the voucher bill, lawmakers hiked the minimum to $11,000.

About 221 of Wisconsin’s 421 public school districts would be eligible to increase base funding to $11,000 per student under the bill, according to preliminary calculations shared by the state Department of Public Instruction, while almost all other school districts were already getting more than that. DPI noted its calculations factored in provisions of the state budget yet to be approved by Evers, and didn’t factor in other special adjustments districts may be eligible for.

Looking at the largest school districts, Milwaukee, Madison and Racine were already above an $11,000 per-student revenue limit, while Kenosha, Green Bay, Appleton, Waukesha and Eau Claire will be bumped up.

Madison has long spent far more than most K-12 school districts, now > $25K per student.

Madison’s 2023 – 2024 budget is at least $581,000,000 for 25,000 students.




Notes on taxpayer supported K-12 spending



Corrinne Hess

In the 2021-22 school year, Wisconsin’s public schools received a total of $16,859 per student, which came from a combination of local property taxes, federal sources and the state. Of that, about $7,728 came from the state, according to the Department of Public Instruction.

“In fact, some of the federal funding factored into that district per pupil calculation is required to be used for services for private school students, meaning it does not support the kids attending public schools in that district,” said Abigail Swetz, DPI spokeswoman. “It is not legitimate for the Republican legislators to take credit for funds that come from local and federal sources, and if the Republican legislators and voucher advocates are claiming that the state provides $14,000 per student, that is patently untrue.”

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has said he will sign the bill.  

The Wisconsin Coalition for Education Freedom praised Republicans and Evers for including funding for school choice in the proposal.  

The coalition represents several groups including School Choice Wisconsin, the Badger Institute, Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.  

Will Flanders, research director with WILL and a coalition member, said the additional funds will allow private choice schools to be more competitive with teacher retention and hiring. And he said the increased funding may open more slots for students at choice schools.

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Curious (false claims) reporting on legacy k-12 schools, charter/voucher models and special education



Wisconsin coalition for education freedom:

Wisconsin Watch has released its third article in a series attempting to discredit the great work choice programs do in Wisconsin. Their latest article misrepresents admission policies of choice schools while ignoring the fact that public schools often engage in admission practices that would be illegal for schools participating in the state’s choice programs.
Wisconsin Watch is again making false claims.

  • In their most recent article, Wisconsin Watch again misrepresents school choice admission practices and now adds a false narrative that schools “expel” students with disabilities at will. Their claims don’t match reality, nor is a single example provided.
  • Fact: Schools in Wisconsin’s choice programs may not discriminate against any eligible family based on a student’s disability.i
  • As with many individual public schools, individual private schools are not required to provide a full range of disability services. Parents who choose to enroll their student do so only after being fully informed of available services.
    Some Wisconsin public schools have admissions processes that would be illegal for private choice schools.
  • Public school districts often have specialty public schools, in addition to their residentially assigned schools. Public schools are permitted to create admission requirements for these schools.
  • Public schools having admission requirements is not a new phenomenon, with the practice being documented in Wisconsin for decades.ii (Link)
  • Today, specialty schools like those in Milwaukeeiii (Link) use a points system to admit students based on their report card scores, attendance, standardized test scores, and an essay. In Green Bay,iv (Link) students must complete a test for admission to a school for the gifted.
    1
  • Choice schools must admit students on a random basis if there is excess demand with few exceptions, primarily related to being in the same family as an existing student.v (Link)
    Public schools reject students in the public school full-time open enrollment program.

Phoebe Petrovic:

As an advocacy specialist at Disability Rights Wisconsin, Joanne Juhnke regularly finds herself on the phone with parents concerned about their children’s treatment at school.

Most complaints concern public schools, which enroll the majority of students. State funding for special education has shrunk, forcing districts to struggle to provide services, and disparate treatment of students with disabilities at public schools persists. But in public school, families have a state body to appeal to: the Department of Public Instruction.

DPI is far less helpful in disputes with private schools, which under state law can legally discriminate against students who need certain disability accommodations — or even kick them out. This applies even to private schools that receive taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers to educate students.

The calls Juhnke receives from voucher families often contain the same story. A family has enrolled a child with disabilities in a private school. Administrators have begun pressuring the student to leave or have kicked them out, something public schools cannot do. The parents are shocked. They’re sure the schools can’t do that.

Many times, Juhnke has to tell them: Yes, they can.

“You went into this school choice program thinking that you were the one, as the parents, who have the choice,” she said. “Really, on the other end, the school holds more choice cards than you do, and you’re coming out on the wrong side of that.”

I find the timing of Wisconsin Watch’s articles curious, amidst budget season. Ideally, the writer might dive deep and wide into the effectiveness of our well funded k-12 system. Reading would be a terrific place to start.

This Wisconsin Watch article was referenced in a recent St Marcus (Milwaukee) podcast. St Marcus operates an extraordinarily successful choice school on the City’s near north side. Read more, here.

Governor Evers’ most recent budget proposals have attempted to kill One City Schools’ charter authorization…

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Budget Season: Notes on Wisconsin’s Substantial Tax & Spending growth



WILL budget primer:

  • Massive Spending Growth: Governor Evers proposed budget increases spending by 18.5% compared to the previous budget. GPR spending would rise by 22.85% compared to the previous budget.
  • Agency GPR Growth: Some agencies would see massive growth in GPR spending. For example, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s GPR allocation would grow by 3351%. The Department of Tourism would have a 1027% increase in GPR spending.
  • Voucher Freeze: The governor proposes freezing enrollment in Wisconsin’s school choice programs at 2024 enrollment levels. This would shut the school house door on thousands of families in Wisconsin desperate for options stuck in schools that aren’t working for them.
  • DEI Positions: Governor Evers wants to spend more than $2.9 million of taxpayer dollars on 15 new executive-tier positions whose mandate is to use government activity to increase “equity.”
  • Work Requirements: Able-bodied adults are required to participate in the Food Share Employment and Training program to continue receiving Food Share benefits after the first three months. Governor Evers would repeal this requirement despite the economic and personal benefits they bring to the state and its participants.

Yet:

Note that spending increases annually, with Madison taxpayers supporting at least $23,000 per student.

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Notes on Wisconsin’s 2023 K-12 Tax & Spending Climate



Alan Borsuk:

Here are thumbnail sketches of issues that will be fueling action in the hives:  

Revenue caps. Since the mid-1990s, the state has imposed caps on the general spending by school districts. Increases in the caps have been minimal in the last dozen years. Two years ago, Republican majorities in the legislature did not increase the caps at all, saying federal pandemic aid made that unnecessary. The end of the pandemic money is in sight and pressures on schools statewide have grown. So what will become of the revenue cap for the next two years?  

Private and charter schools. Under Wisconsin’s several programs for charter schools and private schools that enroll students using vouchers, per-student annual payments run from about $8,400 to $9,100. Public schools get a lot more per student. Expect a strong push from voucher and charter advocates to narrow the gaps. And Republicans remain committed to making private school vouchers more widely available across the state, which Democrats oppose.   

Special education. The state pays local schools about 30% of the costs involved with students with special needs. It’s one of the lowest rates in the nation. There has been advocacy – even bipartisan sometimes – to raise that. The issue will come up again, although the prospects for major change don’t appear to be good.  




“American Experiment’s polling indicates that by a wide margin, Minnesotans want the public schools to prioritize academic excellence, not politics, “equity” or culture war issues”



John Hindraker:

Minnesota, as in other states, concerned parents have banded together to try to wrest control of the public schools away from teachers’ unions, in order to improve the quality of education and to stop left-wing indoctrination. Earlier this year, we started a 501(c)(4) organization called the Minnesota Parents Alliance to lead those efforts in our state. 

Today the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune both posted stories on the MPA and Minnesota’s school board races. The Pioneer Press article is long, and is titled “Social issues bring wave of conservative candidates to MN school board races.” Is educational quality now a “social issue”? 

The Pioneer Press piece is reasonably fair and includes an account of MPA’s founding:

In Minnesota last year, the Center of the American Experiment — a prominent think tank and member of the State Policy Network, which promotes conservative positions like an opposition to public-sector unions and support for voucher laws that help parents redirect tax dollars toward private school tuition — toured the state to fight against an “alarming” rewrite of the K-12 social studies standards for Minnesota schools.

“We filled rooms all across the state,” said the Center’s spokesman, Bill Walsh.

All true so far.

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Commentary on K-12 student choice



Shannon Whitworth:

I work at a high school where the majority of the students are from inner-city Milwaukee. They are confronted almost daily with some form of dysfunction, depravity, or violence.

One day, some of my students challenged me as to why they should put a lot of effort into their studies when, from their perspective, the outlook for their futures looked bleak. I reminded them that God doesn’t want them to live in poverty or hopelessness. Rather, as stated in Proverbs 13, He wants them to live lives of prosperity, generosity and leave a legacy, which is possible if we follow His plan. I was able to share aspects of my faith with my students because the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) has enabled their parents to send them to Milwaukee Lutheran High School on a voucher.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Removing barriers to school choice would help more low-income kids learn in person



Cori Petersen:

This past fall, many public schools made the decision to go virtual as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this wasn’t the case for most private schools. In fact, according to the National Association of Independent Schools, only 5% of private schools went virtual as of October. This is driving demand for private schools across the country and in Wisconsin.

“I think parents have seen how different schools have responded to the COVID pandemic. Some systems and schools went into a self-protective mode and put student needs in a subordinate place,” said Charles Moore, principal of High Point Christian School in Dane County. “Others stepped into ‘harm’s way’ and delivered in-person education despite the potential dangers.”  

High Point Christian School, with locations in Mount Horeb and Madison, welcomed 57 new families to their school this past fall. Many parents cited their desire for their children to learn in person as the main reason for coming to the school. But as we celebrate National School Choice Week this week, it’s important to consider ways to expand access to the choice programs so that low-income families can send their children to an in-person, private school if they so desire. Reforms that would make choice more accessible are longer enrollment periods, allowing children to enter the parental choice programs at any point in time — no matter what grade they are in — and eliminating enrollment caps. 

High Point Christian School is part of the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP). This means there are vouchers available for students whose families make below 220% of the federal poverty limit to attend High Point, and other participating schools, at no cost.   

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.




Judge finds Wisconsin DPI improperly released test scores to media



Todd Richmond:

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction violated state law when it withheld voucher students’ standardized test scores for a day last fall, a judge ruled Friday.

School Choice Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a conservative law firm, sued the department in Jefferson County court in November. The lawsuit revolved around the 2018-19 standardized test scores that the department released that September.

The scores showed only 39% of all students were proficient or advanced in English and that 40% were proficient or advanced in math. Only 20.7% of voucher students were proficient or advanced in English and just 17.8% were proficient or advanced in math.

Students in voucher programs can use state dollars to subsidize tuition at private schools. Republicans have touted the programs as an alternative for students stuck in failing public schools. Democrats argue the programs are a drain on state revenues that could go to help public schools.

Wisconsin has generally lacked a rigorous approach to statewide assessments: see the oft criticized WKCE.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration




Parents, private schools ask state Supreme Court to toss Dane County Madison Public Health order limiting in-person school



Chris Rickert:

A group of parents and private religious schools is asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to void a Dane County order barring in-person school for most students, saying the order issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic infringes on the right to worship and to an education.

“This case challenges the authority of one unelected bureaucrat to upend the education plans of thousands of students and families and their schools located throughout Dane County via the stroke of a pen,” asserts the petition filed Wednesday by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty on behalf of 14 parents, five religious schools, and interest groups for school vouchers and religious and independent schools.

Issued Friday and effective Monday, Emergency Order No. 9 bars schools from offering in-person instruction for grades 3 through 12 until the county meets certain benchmarks showing the coronavirus is better contained. In effect, it applies almost exclusively to private schools because public schools in Dane County had already decided to start the year online for almost all students in almost every grade.

In the WILL petition and a separate one filed on behalf of Fitchburg mother Sara Lindsey James on Tuesday, attorneys argue that Janel Heinrich, director of Public Health Madison and Dane County, doesn’t have authority under state law to close schools and that the order runs counter to the decision the high court made in May striking down the statewide stay-at-home order.

In the May case, the court did not strike down the part of the stay-at-home order closing schools, but that order only closed them through the end of last school year. James’ petition argues state law allowing the state’s public health director to close schools in a public health emergency does not extend to local public health directors such as Heinrich.

(Some) Madison Governance Rhetoric on University of Wisconsin Governance Plans

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration




K-12 “Equity Spending Test”; Difference in spending between public or charter school cannot exceed 25%…. (Madison exceeds that)



Chris Stewart:

Public schools in New Mexico aren’t funding students equitably, so says the U.S. Department Education who accuse the state’s leaders of “diverting [$63 million] in federal Impact Aid grants” intended to help school districts that are disadvantaged by their low tax bases. 

The feds found that New Mexico wasn’t passing the “equity test,” which by law requires “the difference in per-student spending between the public district or charter school with the highest rate in the state and the one with the lowest must not exceed 25 percent.” 

As is, the state’s difference between its highest and lowest is 30%. Not only does that put them out of compliance, it also illustrates the equity-killing effects of business as usual.

Dylan Mullan from the Sante Fe New Mexican reporting includes a nugget that reveals a massive rip in the public education seam:

Madison spends roughly 19k/student annually, while some districts are far less. Charter and voucher schools cannot touch substantial local property taxes and therefore spend less than half of Madison.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Is the MPS Tax & Spending Increase Referendum Good for Milwaukee?



– via a kind reader.

Milwaukee annual per student $pending:

Public: just over $14K

Charter: just over $9k

Voucher: just under $9k

“The problems have less to do with funding and more about policies and practices”. Mission vs organization.

Madison’s taxpayer supported school district spends around $19 to 20K/student and is planning a substantial tax and spending increase referendum. This, despite tolerating long term, disastrous reading results.




Effects of Scaling Up Private School Choice Programs on Public School Students



David N. Figlio, Cassandra M.D. Hart, Krzysztof Karbownik:

Using a rich dataset that merges student-level school records with birth records, and a student fixed effect design, we explore how the massive scale-up of a Florida private school choice program affected public school students’ outcomes. Expansion of the program produced modestly larger benefits for students attending public schools that had a larger initial degree of private school options, measured prior to the introduction of the voucher program. These benefits include higher standardized test scores and lower absenteeism and suspension rates. Effects are particularly pronounced for lower-income students, but results are positive for more affluent students as well.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.




Arizona’s education chief may not like vouchers, but she must follow the law



Jon Gabriel:

This week, reporters revealed that the state Department of Education released the personal information of nearly 7,000 families who use Empowerment Scholarship Accounts. Worse still, they sent it to Save Our Schools, staunch opponents of the program and educational choice in general.

ESAs enable parents, mostly those who have children with special needs, to direct their taxpayer dollars for specialized educational therapies or curriculum. The accounts help bridge the huge financial gap for families requiring customized assistance in the classroom.

The department released a spreadsheet that included the account balances of every ESA account in the state, along with names, email addresses and the grade in which the student is enrolled. Special needs students even had their disability listed.

2011: A majority of the Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school

“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.




Arizona Education Department blunder puts ESA parent names in hands of group that opposes expansion of voucher program



Dillon Rosenblat:

The Arizona Department of Education likely violated federal student privacy laws when it released a spreadsheet that inadvertently named every parent with an Empowerment Scholarship Account in the state. The spreadsheet then fell into the hands of a group that opposes expansion of the program.

The Yellow Sheet Report, a sister publication of the Capitol Times, also obtained the spreadsheet through a public records request for documents showing the account balance of every ESA account in the state, and, on the surface, the documents the department provided appear to properly redact personally identifiable information. But when the Yellow Sheet Report highlighted the document, it became clear it was improperly redacted. Copying the entire table into a text reader reveals the redacted portions. 

The likely explanation is that the department blackened the background in columns containing the names and email addresses of nearly 7,000 parents with ESA accounts, but didn’t re-scan the document to ensure the words didn’t show through. 

2011: A majority of the Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school

“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.




No, voucher schools haven’t raised property taxes by $1B since 2011



Eric Litke:

Voucher schools are an ongoing point of contention in Wisconsin’s divided government, with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers even promising to tighten or end the decades-old program.

The system, which uses taxpayer money to send low-income students to private schools, has been tweaked and debated but ultimately expanded under Republican control in recent years.

In recent comments, one Democratic lawmaker claimed it has grown into a program with a 10-figure tax impact.

“The only thing voucher schools have done for low-income kids is increase their parents’ property taxes. That’s it,” said state Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, during a May 23, 2019, session of the Joint Committee on Finance, the Legislature’s budget-writing body.

She went on to say: “They have failed to increase academic performance of low-income kids or graduation rates of low-income kids, but they’ve increased property taxes. You know how much by? Since 2011, and this is from the (Legislative) Fiscal Bureau — $1 billion.”

We’ll leave the performance arguments for another day and focus on the price tag.

Has the voucher program, also known as school choice, really raised property taxes by $1 billion?

Understanding vouchers

Though the voucher program is often referred to as a single entity, it is actually four different programs.

The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program is the first and largest, launched in 1990. The Racine Parental Choice Program started in 2011, the statewide Wisconsin Parental Choice Program in 2013 and the statewide Special Needs Scholarship Program in 2016.

The programs allow parents to send their children to private schools with a taxpayer-funded voucher. Families must meet certain income limits (though those don’t apply for the special needs program) to qualify for vouchers and must reapply every year.

The programs had a combined enrollment of about 40,000 students in 2018-19, with about 75% of those in Milwaukee.

The state could fund the voucher program by simply paying the vouchers from the state’s general fund — the Racine and statewide programs used to work like this — but instead it is now done through a complex exchange of funds.

The mechanics vary between programs, but generally it works like this:

When a student enrolls in a voucher school, the state pays the amount of that voucher — roughly $8,000 per student — to the school and reduces the state aid to the public school district where the student lives by the same amount.

The state then increases the amount the district can levy in property taxes by the same amount to make up for the lost voucher funds.

The system helps restore district funding levels since losing a smattering of students at different levels doesn’t typically result in lower costs for the district. That is, a district can’t get rid of a grade-level classroom or drop a teacher who teaches a particular subject just because two students in one grade and one in another move to a voucher school.

The district isn’t required to raise taxes; it could make up the money by cutting elsewhere.

But since 2011, the period cited by Taylor, there was just one year where Racine or Milwaukee didn’t increase the property-tax levy to that maximum, according to the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Dan Rossmiller, government relations director for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, also noted districts are motivated to levy to this maximum since this is a “use it or lose it” system. Districts that don’t tax to that full amount in a given year can’t return to that levy amount in the future.

The state is in the process of changing this system for Milwaukee.

Taxpayers support traditional K-12 school districts with many taxes, including property, sales, income (state and federal) and fees. Voucher schools make do with much less, per student.




Study: Journalists need help covering misinformation: Madison’s K-12 taxpayer spending rhetoric vs reality



Daniel Funke:

A study published in Science Advances in January found that older people are more likely to share fake news stories. A Gallup and Knight Foundation survey from last year suggested that most Americans want technology companies to do more to fight misinformation. Other researchers have found that fake news is making college students trust all news less.

But how has online fakery affected journalists?

In a new study conducted by the Institute for the Future, a California-based nonprofit think tank, researchers found more than 80% of journalists admitted to falling for false information online. The data was based on a survey of 1,018 journalists at regional and national publications in the United States.

Perhaps more concerning: Only 14.9% of journalists surveyed said they had been trained on how to best report on misinformation.

A good place to start: financial misinformation. Reporters should always tell the whole story $518m in Madison school district 2018-2019 spending), not just taxpayer funded public rhetoric.

Materiality is also important (missing the big story, in this example).




Wisconsin K-12 Tax & Spending Growth Sentiment



Negassi Tesfamichael:

However, the group said support dipped once additional information on current spending levels and other information about the budget was included.

The poll found only a third of respondents supported Evers’ proposal to freeze the growth of private school vouchers and independent charter schools. The poll found a majority of support for public charter schools and for parts of Act 10, including a provision that requires teachers to contribute at least 12 percent to their health care costs.

Indeed. One wonders how many citizens are aware of our $20k per student Madison school
District budget?

Related: “The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”




2004-2019 Wisconsin K-12 Spending: Property Tax & Redistributed Taxpayer funds



Tap for a larger version.

Raw data [Excel Numbers] via Sara Hynek.

Note that taxpayer supported K-12 school districts receive funds from a variety of sources, including federal taxpayer funds along with local fees.

Madison plans to spend $518,955,288 during the 2018-2019 school year. That’s about $20,000 per student (26,917, which includes 4k), which is far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 schools, nearly 3X voucher organizations, for example. Much more on spending comparisons, here.

An “emphasis on adult employment“.




Wisconsin Governor Evers seeks to freeze voucher school enrollment and suspend charter school expansion



Molly Beck:

He said in the Milwaukee program especially, enrollment freezes in private voucher schools would disproportionately affect children of color living in low-income households.

“Most of our families don’t have the kind of income where they would have realistic choices,” he said at the time.

Under Evers’ proposal, voucher schools also would be banned from charging tuition for students living in poverty under the proposal and would be required to allow students to opt out of religious activities.

All teachers working in schools receiving taxpayer-funded vouchers would be required to be licensed like public school teachers, and all voucher schools would be required to be accredited before receiving taxpayer funds, under Evers’ proposal.

In another provision, increases in the amount of money private voucher schools receive per student would be tied to increases in the amount of money school districts could raise in revenue and receive through the state’s funding formula.

Suspend charter school expansion

Evers in his spending plan also would suspend programs created by Republicans in recent years to expand independent charter schools in school districts that have persistent gaps in academic achievement between groups of students.

The University of Wisconsin System Office of Educational Opportunity, which was created in 2015 and may authorize independent charter schools over the objection of school district officials, would be barred from authorizing new schools until 2023.

The budget proposal also seeks to prevent a flurry of new independent charter schools from opening.

Under state law, charter schools may be authorized by technical colleges, the City of Milwaukee, all UW System chancellors, the state’s tribal leaders, and the Waukesha County Executive. Evers’ budget proposal suspends the organizations’ authority to authorize new charter schools until 2023.

A spokesman for UW System did not respond to a request for comment on the proposals to suspend the system’s ability to create new charter schools.

Another program known as the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program would be eliminated. The program was created in 2015 and required public school districts receiving persistent failing grades from the state to be taken over by county officials.

The program, which was created to address low-performing schools in Milwaukee, requires the county executive to appoint a special commissioner to take over a select number of schools in a district receiving failing grades and turn them over to an outside operator.

Scott Bauer:

Evers is also calling for requiring all teachers working in private schools that accept taxpayer-funded voucher students to be licensed like public school teachers. He also wants to give taxpayers more information on property tax bills about how much of their money is going to fund voucher schools. He’s also calling for a cap on enrollment in the voucher program for students with disabilities.

Jesse Opoien:

Evers is set to deliver his first budget address Thursday evening, but has shared some details from the spending plan with reporters in the weeks leading up to it. His plans for voucher and charter schools were first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Monday, then shared with other reporters later that day.

Aides to the governor framed the proposal as a way to reduce property taxes and to discuss funding sources for the voucher program without affecting currently-enrolled students.

Opponents of the plan accused Evers of favoring teachers’ unions over students.

“Evers’ budget would end school choice as Wisconsin knows it,” said C.J Szafir, executive vice president of the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, in a statement.

Related: The DPI, lead by Mr. Evers, granted thousands of elementary teacher reading content knowledge requirement exemptions.

Yet: “The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”.




WILL Messaging Experiment & Public Opinion Poll on K-12 Tax & Spending



WILL:

on K-12 Education Reform
In almost every context, words matter. Public opinion on particular issues can shift greatly depending on the language used, and K-12 education reform is no exception. To help further understand this, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty commissioned Research Now Survey Sampling International to conduct a statewide survey experiment of 1,500 adults in Wisconsin. We tested a number of messages related to education reform, ranging from vouchers to Education Savings Accounts (ESA). We also surveyed public opinion on spending on K-12 schools and the impact of Act 10, the 2011 collective bargaining reform law, on teachers and students.
To conduct the school choice messaging study for vouchers, charter schools, and ESAs, respondents were randomized into one of several messaging conditions, exposing them to certain types of information. Following this randomization, respondents are asked about their level of support for school choice on a five point scale ranging from “strongly oppose” to “strongly support.” We learn which messages increase support by comparing the average responses of those in the control group to the average response of those in each treatment group.

We found that school choice is in fact popular, but the words that are used to describe it are of critical importance. For example, Republicans increase their support of vouchers when discussed in terms of civics and patriotism. Democrats and African Americans increase their support when discussed in terms of diversity. Surprisingly Education Savings Accounts have majority or plurality of support amongst all demographics, including Democrats, and suggest strong appetite for more school choice




Do School Vouchers Work? Look to Milwaukee



Tawnell Hobs:

“The schools that have 20% to 30% voucher kids and 70% to 80% fee-paying kids, they look more like the private schools that we sort of put on a pedestal—that have very ambitious programs,” says Patrick Wolf, a professor of education policy at the University of Arkansas who has studied private-school choice programs for about 19 years. “Ones that enroll a very high percent of voucher students tend to be low-resourced.”

The Milwaukee findings offer a potential road map for the Trump administration, which is preparing a national push for school-choice programs to provide an alternative to traditional public schools. President Donald Trump has called for allocating $250 million for scholarships for low-income students to attend private schools, part of a plan to eventually pump $20 billion of federal money into school-choice measures, including vouchers.

Private schools receive less money per student under the Milwaukee voucher program— from $7,323 to $7,969 per student in the last school year—compared with an average of $10,122 for public-school students. The amount, which has increased over the years, was initially set low to help pass the voucher bill in a split legislature.

Public-school officials say they have greater expenses, such as for transportation and for providing services to special-needs students, although they say they haven’t done any comprehensive cost comparisons between public and voucher schools.

Mr. Bender has pushed to expand the funding for the voucher program. Like many proponents, he says the ability of parents to choose is a big benefit in itself, especially for parents seeking a religiously based school.
Mike Ruzicka, president of the 4,000-member Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors, a group that supports Milwaukee’s voucher program, says that at the outset supporters were overly optimistic about the program’s potential impact.

“We’ve come to the realization that it’s not going to be a panacea,” he says. He says the voucher program helped some students and has provided families with more options, and has also pushed public schools to do better.Local opponents call the program a failure based on its academic record. Wisconsin state Rep. Christine Sinicki (D., Milwaukee), an opponent who was on the Milwaukee school board during the program’s early years, says
the program’s expansion beyond poor students stretched public-school financing by enabling middle-class students who had been paying for private school to attend them with vouchers.

Much more on vouchers, here.

Will Flanders commentary.

Madison spends nearly $20k per student, far more than voucher schools receive. Despite the above average spending, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.




Vouchers and taxpayer supported school districts



Erin Richards:

In 2015-’16, Wisconsin was home to just over a million school-aged children. About 860,000 attended public schools. About 123,000 attended private schools: about 90,000 who paid tuition, and about 33,000 who used vouchers. About 20,000 children were home-schooled.

Vouchers are taxpayer-funded tuition subsidies that help children attend private schools, the vast majority of which are religious. In Wisconsin, the annual voucher payments will rise to about $7,500 per K-8 pupil and around $8,000 per high school student this fall.

To qualify for a voucher in the statewide program, students have to come from families earning no more than 185% of the federal poverty level, or about $45,000 for a family of four or about $52,000 if the parents are married. The income limit for the Racine and Milwaukee programs is 300% of the federal poverty level.
Vouchers are different than charter schools, which are fully public schools that are privately operated, often by nonprofits. Charter schools receive freedom from some state rules and school district oversight in exchange for demonstrating higher-than-average student achievement, the terms of which are outlined in their charters, or contracts.

“School choice” refers to vouchers and charters and other options parents can choose outside their assigned neighborhood school. But vouchers are the most controversial because they usually support religious schools that don’t have to follow all the same rules as public schools. Private schools that accept vouchers are not legally obligated to serve all children with special needs, and they do not have to disclose all the same data as public schools.

Voucher schools spend substantially less per student than traditional taxpayer funded school districts.

Locally, Madison spends nearly $20,000 per student annually, despite tolerating long term, disastrous reading results




School choice opponents’ arguments against voucher schools ring hollow



Will Flanders::

While creating an incentive to improve, school choice has not come at a cost to the public schools. If, as Taylor claims, school choice is designed to “siphon” money from public schools, it’s making a mess of the job. Per-pupil spending is higher today than it was before the start of the voucher program. And because the voucher amount is substantially less than the amount spent on children attending public schools, the program actually saves money which could, if the Legislature desired, be further redirected to public schools. Under current law, school districts can continue to receive funding for students they no longer educate if they choose to go to a private school with a voucher, meaning that a student leaving actually increases the district’s per-student revenue in the short term. Taylor conveniently ignores these facts.

By repeating the false narrative about school choice, Taylor seeks to propagate a system where Wisconsin families most in need of educational alternatives are stuck in failing schools. An honest look at the voucher sector shows a system that is cheaper for Wisconsin taxpayers and produces better outcomes. Unlike Taylor, I refuse to sacrifice the education of Wisconsin’s children at the altar of the public school establishment. While public schools are and will remain an important part of our educational system, it is time for “advocates” of government-run schools to recognize that they are better served by devoting their energies to education and not politics. Instead of working to deny families choice, they should concentrate on offering a product that parents will choose.

Indeed, Madison school spending grows annually, now approaching $20,000 per student. This, despite its long term, disastrous reading results.




Commentary On Voucher academic outcomes



Corey DeAngelis:

The Actual Test Score Results – and Their Implications

Even the latest experimental results, which show that voucher students in Louisiana and Indiana caught up with or did better than their public school peers on test scores, are less optimistic than prior voucher studies. However, there is not a clear theory for why voucher programs ought to be less-effective now than they used to be, all else equal.

I suspect that the regulatory environment may have something to do with the recent lackluster experimental results. For example, private schools participating in the Louisiana Scholarship Program (LSP) must administer the state standardized test, prohibit parental copay for families using vouchers, report finances to the government, and surrender their admissions process over to the state. As the recent study by me and my colleagues at the University of Arkansas finds, only a third of the private schools chose to participate in the LSP, and those schools were less likely to be the higher quality institutions.

Meanwhile, Madison, now spending nearly $20k/student has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Voucher schools typically spend far less per student.




“After just a few years, voucher students perform as well or better than their non-voucher peers while using significantly less public funding,” 



Joanne Jacobs:

Louisiana students who used vouchers to switch from public to private schools did worse in the first year, then improved, concludes a University of Arkansas study. After three years, voucher students were doing as well as similar students who hadn’t switched; low performers did significantly better in English.

The Indiana study looked at students in grades 3-8 who switched from public to private schools. In the first year, they lost ground in math, but they bounced back in the next few years and moved ahead in language arts in the fourth year.

“Overall, voucher students are lower-achieving students from the public sector and enter private schools substantially behind their private school peers, researchers wrote. “During the [Indiana voucher program’s] first few years of implementation, many private schools lacked the capacity or experience in educating new students who are academically behind.”

More, here.

Compare Madison’s spending to voucher schools.




“After just a few years, voucher students perform as well or better than their non-voucher peers while using significantly less public funding,” 



Joanne Jacobs:

Louisiana students who used vouchers to switch from public to private schools did worse in the first year, then improved, concludes a University of Arkansas study. After three years, voucher students were doing as well as similar students who hadn’t switched; low performers did significantly better in English.

The Indiana study looked at students in grades 3-8 who switched from public to private schools. In the first year, they lost ground in math, but they bounced back in the next few years and moved ahead in language arts in the fourth year.

“Overall, voucher students are lower-achieving students from the public sector and enter private schools substantially behind their private school peers, researchers wrote. “During the [Indiana voucher program’s] first few years of implementation, many private schools lacked the capacity or experience in educating new students who are academically behind.”

More, here.

Compare Madison’s spending to voucher schools.




Notes on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Election



Annysa Johnson:

Evers, 65, said his large margin Tuesday reflected Wisconsin voters’ commitment to public education. But he could face a tough fight ahead, he said, if Holtz attracts funding from school reform proponents across the country.

“They both vowed to go after national voucher money, and I assume that will be Mr. Holtz’s M.O.,” Evers said of his challengers. “If that happens…we will work as hard as we can to raise money and get people out to vote the next time around.”

Holtz, 59, was not available for comment, according to his spokesman, because he was celebrating with friends and family. The candidate issued a statement saying he would present “an alternative vision for the future of Wisconsin’s students to that of Dr. Tony Evers.”

Humphries congratulated both candidates in a statement and urged voters to learn more about Holtz’s proposals and to ask Evers what he plans to do differently.

“I remain convinced that Wisconsin students can achieve so much more with the right leadership at DPI.”

So far, Evers has a significant edge financially. As of Feb. 14, he had raised more than $245,000 over the past 13 months, compared to Holtz’s $54,280. But Holtz is expected to pick up many of Humphries’ conservative supporters and could attract outside funding from education reform advocates who see a chance to bring Wisconsin in line with the views of new U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who has been critical of Common Core and supports the expansion of taxpayer funded vouchers.

Higher-than-expected turnouts in Madison and Dane County at large — as much as 18% to 22%, according to early estimates — likely helped Evers. Madison and Dane County clerks could not say whether the DPI race brought voters to the polls.

Molly Beck:

The state superintendent race pits two former school district superintendents and longtime educators against each other — a proponent of expanding school choices and an opponent of the state expansion of taxpayer-funded school vouchers.

On the April 4 ballot will be two-term incumbent Tony Evers, a public school advocate backed mostly by liberals and teachers unions who has been at odds with Republicans for years over his adoption of the Common Core State Standards and his opposition to the expansion of private school vouchers in the state.

He took about seven of every 10 votes in the primary.

His challenger, Lowell Holtz, is backed mostly by conservatives and school voucher supporters. He is making his second run for the position and opposes the Common Core State Standards and favors expansion of educational options — including taxpayer-funded vouchers — other than public schools.

Holtz got 23 percent of the vote Tuesday, and was dogged by allegations that he sought to get out of the race in exchange for a guaranteed, taxpayer-funded $150,000 job that would let him oversee the state’s largest school districts, including Madison.

Evers is seeking a third term in the wake of massive membership losses for the state’s largest teachers union, a strong campaign contributor for Evers in the past, setting the stage for the potential of third-party groups spending on behalf of Holtz to ensure the election of a voucher supporter.

Dane County results.




Milwaukee’s Voucher Verdict What 26 years of vouchers can teach the private-school choice movement—if only it would listen



Erin Richards:

Together, Travis Academy and Holy Redeemer have received close to $100 million in taxpayer funding over the years. The sum is less than what taxpayers would have paid for those pupils in public schools, because each tuition voucher costs less than the total expense per pupil in Milwaukee Public Schools. But vouchers weren’t supposed to provide just a cheaper education. They were supposed to provide a better one.

CREATED IN 1990 BY A COALITION of black parents and school-reform advocates with the blessing of a Republican governor, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program aimed to allow poor parents to withdraw their children from public schools and send them to higher-performing private schools they probably couldn’t otherwise afford.

Today, a little under a third of Milwaukee’s school-age population attends voucher schools. Overall, test-score outcomes for the Milwaukee Public Schools and the private voucher schools are remarkably low, and remarkably similar: On the latest state tests, about 80 percent of children in both sectors were not proficient in English and about 85 percent were not proficient in math. The voucher high schools, however, posted slightly higher 11th-grade ACT scores this year than Milwaukee Public Schools: a 17.5 composite, compared with the district’s 16.5.

The voucher program is not to blame for all of that, of course, but some wonder why the major reform hasn’t made more of a difference. The program has bolstered some decent religious schools—mostly Catholic and Lutheran—which would have never maintained a presence in the inner city serving poor children without taxpayer assistance. It’s helped to incubate a couple of private schools that eventually became high-performing charter schools. But it’s extended the same life raft to some abysmally performing schools that parents continue to choose for a variety of reasons besides academic performance. And it’s kept afloat a great number of mediocre programs.

Research shows Milwaukee parents have listed small class sizes and school safety among their top reasons for choosing a voucher school. Safety per se doesn’t equal educational excellence, but parents’ perceptions of safety can drive their decision-making. But are those perceptions accurate? Advocacy group School Choice Wisconsin examined police-call data for Milwaukee’s public and voucher schools in recent years and determined voucher schools to have proportionally fewer requests for assistance, but voucher schools also serve a disproportionately small number of students in high school, where many of the most serious school incidents warranting police attention occur. Objective data on school safety are hard to come by without records of incident reports, suspensions, and expulsions.

Henry Tyson, the superintendent of St. Marcus Lutheran School, a popular and high-performing voucher school that now serves children in Milwaukee’s central city, has long been frustrated at the lack of state and local political attention given to policies that would help expand high-performing programs and eliminate low-performing ones.

“I am intensely frustrated by the voucher schools that are chronically underperforming over a long period of time,” he says. “As far as I’m concerned, any school that has been open three years or more that is under 5 percent proficiency should close, whether that’s a public school, charter school, or voucher school.”

Milwaukee has failed to develop such a mechanism in part because many choice advocates don’t want to give more power to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, which they do not believe is an objective overseer. Other advocates refuse to acknowledge that parent choice alone will not always raise the quality of the market.

“What we need to do is to toil every day and keep pushing for that Berlin Wall moment,” says Kevin Chavous, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer and education-reform advocate who supported the launch of the federally funded D.C. voucher program. Chavous is a founding board member of the AFC, and a tall African American with piercing blue-gray eyes and an industrious nature—he’s written entire books on education reform during long-distance flights. He believes that school choice can and will become the dominant method of delivering educational opportunity in America.

“We’re close to that tipping point,” he said in May 2016 during AFC’s annual conference at National Harbor, a resort hugging the Potomac River just south of D.C.

It’s important to remember that private-school choice is still just a tiny sliver of the pie when it comes to publicly funded education in America. Approximately 50 million children attend public schools run by school districts. About 2.5 million attend public charter schools. And only around 400,000 attend private schools with the help of voucher, tax-credit scholarship, or education-savings account, according to EdChoice. But substantial jumps could be around the corner, especially as the programs continue to expand from targeting solely low-income children to being open to all.

A useful article. Links and detailed spending comparisons would be useful. Madison currently spends around $18k per student, far ahove the antional average. Similar achievement at less than half the cost of traditional K-12 organs is worth exploration, perhaps offering opportunities to help students in the greatest need, such as many in Madison.




K-12 Governance Rhetoric (lacks Spending Differences)



Jared Bernstein & Ben Spielberg:

DeVos and other ideological enemies of teachers unions may well try to block that vision. But as most education policy gets hashed out at the local level, they will hopefully fail. The desire for cross-sector collaboration with a goal of promoting equity for all students is growing, and fostering that growth will deliver a big win for our children.

Choice schools often spend substantially less per student than traditional, no choice schools.




Commentary on 1.8% of Wisconsin’s $14,000,000,000 in K-12 Spending



Molly Beck:

The number of students using vouchers to attend private schools grew from 22,439 during the 2011-12 school year to 29,609 last school year, according to the DPI. At the same time, 870,650 students attended public schools last year — which is about the same number that did in the 2011-12 school year. Enrollment grew to 873,531 in the 2013-14 school year before decreasing last school year.

Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers have created new voucher programs in Racine and statewide to join the program in Milwaukee, created in 1990 as the country’s first.

Milwaukee and Racine school districts are allowed to raise property taxes to offset their reductions in state aid.

Related: SIS

Ongoing education spending rhetoric often lacks facts, such as the recent Wisconsin State Journal Headline replaying annual school budget theatre (thankfully, the article did mention the planned 9(!) increase in healthcare spending).

I recently requested historic data on Wisconsin education spending and have posted the results below, along with the raw data. Tap the charts to view a larger version.




Commentary on Wisconsin K-12 Tax & Spending Policies



Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter (PDF), via a kind Jeanie Kamholtz email:

Governor Walker’s proposed Budget and the gamesmanship being played in the legislature has been compared to the game “whack-a-mole”. Representative Melissa Sargent, a champion for public education, teachers and progressive causes, said of the Budget proposals, “Just when you think we’ve averted one crisis, another initiative is introduced to threaten the progressive traditions of our state.” Sargent added, “The Budget process provides a look inside the corporate-driven policy agenda of the Republican party. Their goal is comprehensive privatization.”

That concept came through loud and clear last week, when the Republican majority on the Joint Finance Committee introduced a proposal which would enable even more funds to be diverted from money-starved public schools to private schools, by expanding the number of parents who can use a State-issued voucher to pay the cost of sending their child to a private school. The funds would come from that child’s area public school system. An investigation by One Wisconsin Now illustrates that a pro-voucher front group donated $122,000 to the campaigns of the Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee.

Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling said education must be the top Budget priority, that “the needs of children and schools must be addressed before tax breaks for the wealthy and giveaways to special interests (voucher supporters).” Shilling continued, “To fully restore the cuts our schools have seen over the past four years, we need to invest an additional $200 per student above what Walker has proposed.” While the Republican majority brags that they are adding $208 million in school aids, it amounts to only 1⁄2 of 1% over the two-year Budget, and more than 50% of that will not go to schools, but to reducing property taxes.

The Walker Budget would also enable State takeover of the Milwaukee Public Schools, and perhaps the Madison Metropolitan School District. The Budget proposal would enable a “commissioner to convert these schools to charter or voucher schools.” The “commissioner” would have the authority to fire all teachers and administrators in a school district taken over, given the provisions of the proposed law.

A recent amendment would enable anyone with any BA degree to teach English, social studies, math or science, and enable anyone – even without a degree – to teach business, art, music, agriculture or special education.

The Budget will be acted upon this month. It is time to let your objections be heard regarding the school funding crisis being created by the proposed Budget. Contact majority party members of the Joint Finance Committee:

Related: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results, despite spending more than $15,000 per student, double the national average.




Commentary On School Voucher Effectiveness & Economics



Chris Rickert:

But there’s still little doubt vouchers mean taxpayers are going to be on the hook for educating some indeterminate number of additional kids than they would be in the absence of vouchers.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, according to Jim Bender, president of the pro-voucher School Choice Wisconsin. He notes that government doesn’t force citizens to prove they’ve been unable to pay for other basics in order to be eligible for taxpayer help. People applying for food stamps, for example, don’t have to prove starvation or that they haven’t visited a grocery store in the prior year.

Are vouchers a good deal financially?

The answer to that is about as muddled as the answer to whether voucher schools provide an educational product that is any better, on the whole, than the one provided by public schools.

Ultimately, it probably comes down to whether you think parents should be able to choose their kids’ schools when taxpayers are flipping the educational bill.

Madison spends more than $15,000 per student.

Voucher schools operate on substantially smaller budgets.

Mr Rickert neglects to mention and compare total Wisconsin K-12 spending.




Comments On proposed Voucher Funding changes… ($37M in a 4.5B Budget)



Molly Beck

Overall, roughly $4.5 billion annually is devoted to general school funding in the proposed state budget. The cost for new students in the program over the next two years is projected to be about $37 million. In the last state budget, about $384 million was appropriated for the state’s three voucher systems.

Rep. Sondy Pope, D-Cross Plains, said the proposed state budget further harms already financially struggling public school districts. Barca characterized the estimated cost as funds “stolen” from public schools and diverted to the “private voucher school experiment.”

“We simply cannot afford to build two parallel school systems in this state,” said Barca.

Jim Bender, president of voucher lobbying group School Choice Wisconsin, said he could not respond to the memo because it was speculative. He added the memo was created to grab headlines. “Without seeing how they came up with the calculation, it’s very difficult to respond to,” he said.

More from Erin Richards.

It is useful to see an article with complete spending perspective data!

Much more on vouchers, here.




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 with alternate specifications, disaggregate the spending variable by function, and examine an alternate data set that includes one year of school-level expenditures. Details about these approaches and their results are described and reported in Appendix B. As with our main analysis, we did not find conclusive evidence to indicate that marginal changes in spending had a significant impact on student outcomes.

Conclusion: We do not find reliable evidence in the data that a systematic relationship exists between additional spending and student outcomes. These results are similar to a larger body of research on the effectiveness of spending. Economist Eric Hanushek (2003), for example, systematically reviewed research on the effectiveness of key educational resources in U.S. schools. In examining the impact of per-pupil educational expenditures, he tallied the statistical significance and impact of 163 estimates on the impact of spending on student outcomes and found that 27% of these estimates were positive and statistically significant, while 66% were not statistically significant, meaning no impacts were detected.

Advocates for keeping the status quo argue for increasing education spending to solve problems with our education system. But, it is not the case that resources alone will bring about improvement – even substantial infusions of resources, as was the case with Kansas City’s experience. One plausible explanation may be that districts have reached what economists call diminishing returns. This occurs when an organization reaches a point where additional dollars spent do not produce proportional benefits, holding everything else constant. For example, a dollar spent on education in developing counties, such as India, is more likely to have a greater impact than in Wisconsin – or elsewhere in the United States – which spends more than most of the developed world.

This raises a question for policymakers: Has Wisconsin hit a wall where an additional dollar in education spending will not bring improvements in student outcomes? The results of our research indicate that this may be the case.

….

Funding disparities between schools
As Figure 8 shows, significant disparities in public funding exist among traditional public schools and both private schools in the choice program and independent public charter schools. The amount that independent charters and choice schools receive is set by state law. Currently, the amount of a voucher for the choice programs is $7,210 for K- 8 and $7,856 for grades 9-12.

Independent charters in Milwaukee receive the same amount (state law reflects that). Public school districts, on average, receive $12,512 per pupil. Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) receives $14,333 per pupil (Figure 8).

This disparity is not new. Since 2000, expenditures increased for public schools statewide by 3% while it decreased for independent charter and private schools in the parental choice program by 7% to 8% (adjusted for inflation, i.e. “real”).43 Notably, revenues for MPS increased by 15% in real terms.

Locally, Madison spends double the national average per student, or more than $15K annually, yet has long tolerated disastrous reading results.




Commentary on Wisconsin’s K-12 Tax, Spending & Governance Climate



Madison Teachers, Inc. Newsletter, via a kind Jeanie Kamholtz email (PDF):

It has been a long, well-planned attack. In 1993, in an action against their own philosophy; i.e. decisions by government should be made at the lowest possible level, the Republican Governor and Legislature began actions to control local school boards. They passed Revenue Controls on school boards to limit how much they can increase taxes. This in itself caused harm by instructional materials and textbooks becoming out-dated. School Boards had to make choices between providing “current” materials and texts, or small class sizes to enable optimum learning. Eventually, the legislated revenue controls caused a double-whammy – out-dated texts & materials and an increase in class size, because of layoffs caused by the legislated revenue controls.

Next, the Governor & Legislature enabled vouchers so those who choose to send their children to private or religious schools can use “vouchers” which cause the public school, where the child could attend, to forfeit public/tax funds to pay for the child to attend the private or parochial school.

With revenue controls crippling the means to provide the best quality education and adequate financial reward for school district employees; and vouchers taking another big chunk, Wisconsin’s Governor and Legislature say of the schools that they have been starving to cause their failure, now, because of your failure, we will close your schools and convert them to for-profit private charter schools. This plan is to appease the Koch Brothers and others, who provide large sums to buy the elections of those promoting these privatization schemes.

Assembly Bill 1, in the 2015 Wisconsin legislative session, is designed just to do what is described above, and it is on the fast-track for approval, just as Act 10 was a few years ago. If it is not stopped, it will rip the heart out of every community – the pubic school will be gone, as will quality public education for all of Wisconsin’s children. The smaller the community, the bigger the harmful impact on Wisconsin’s towns and villages because of AB 1.

Madison spends about double the national average per student.

Madison Teachers, Inc. 26 January, 2015 newsletter can be found here (PDF).




Commentary on a Milwaukee voucher school; contemplating accountability & spending differences



Erin Richards:

The operator of one of Milwaukee’s longest-running private voucher schools says her organization strives to give disadvantaged children the best shot they can get in life, even when they’ve been left behind by other schools.

But new documents and former employees have raised concerns about the internal workings at Ceria M. Travis Academy, a private school that’s received more than $35 million in state voucher payments through the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program since 1996.

Complaints filed with the state in 2014 and obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel through an open records request allege that the school has violated state law by employing people without bachelor’s degrees to teach students.

Much more on vouchers, here.

Ideally, the writer might compare outcomes and spending between voucher and traditional public schools. Voucher spending in Wisconsin is minuscule compared to the present K-12 system. Further, one would hope that all publicly funded schools face the same accountability requirements.

Finally, voucher schools often spend less than half the amount per student than traditional public schools.

Compare Wisconsin’s teacher credential ism with Massachusetts’ (MTEL).




Commentary on 0.0015% of Wisconsin K-12 spending over the past 10 years



Molly Beck:

Over the past 10 years, Wisconsin taxpayers have paid about $139 million to private schools that were subsequently barred from the state’s voucher system for failing to meet requirements related to finances, accreditation, student safety and auditing, a State Journal review has found.

More than two-thirds of the 50 schools terminated from the state’s voucher system since 2004 — all in Milwaukee — had stayed open for five years or less, according to the data provided by the state Department of Public Instruction. Eleven schools, paid a total of $4.1 million, were terminated from the voucher program after just one year.

Northside High School, for example, received $1.7 million in state vouchers for low-income students attending the private school before being terminated from the program in its first year in 2006 for failing to provide an adequate curriculum.

The data highlight the challenges the state faces in requiring accountability from private schools in the voucher program, which expanded from just Milwaukee and Racine to a statewide program last school year. The issue has emerged as a key area of disagreement between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke, a Madison School Board member, in this year’s gubernatorial campaign.

Last school year, there were 108 schools and about 25,000 students participating in the Milwaukee voucher program, and 146 voucher schools total. The state has budgeted about $210 million for all voucher schools for the current school year, compared to around $4.4 billion in general aid for public schools.

Wisconsin spent $11,774 per student in 2011 [ballotpedia] or $10,256,390,270. So, let’s assume that Wisconsin spent on average $9Billion annually since 2004. That’s $90,000,000,000 over the past decade. The state paid $139,000,000 to “failed” voucher schools during that time, or 0.0015% of total K-12 spending…

Perhaps it would be worthwhile to further analyze the effectiveness of said 90,000,000,000… not to mention the present public school “accountability” models. After all, the oft criticized WKCE was used to evaluate schools for some time.d Astonishing.




Study contends voucher programs save money, benefit public schools



Erin Richards:

Milwaukee’s long-running school voucher program that allows certain children to attend private and religious schools at taxpayer expense has saved Wisconsin more than $238 million since its inception in 1990, according to a new study by a national voucher advocacy group.

The study released Tuesday by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice said that across the country, publicly funded vouchers to offset tuition for about 70,000 children attending private schools in 10 cities has saved a total of $1.7 billion.

That’s not a surprisingfinding — vouchers are generally lower in cost than public school education.

But the study’s more provocative point is that the savings from those voucher programs in Milwaukee and other cities are passively plowed back into public schools or other public programs.

Author Jeff Spalding, the director of fiscal policy and analysis at the foundation, said he lacks the data to track exactly where those savings went in each state, but said it’s just common sense that government savings from vouchers would naturally flow into other public purposes, such as schools, roads, law enforcement or health care.

Critics pounced on that reasoning, noting that taxpayer dollars to private schools in the form of vouchers siphon resources away from the public schools.

Also, the study predates new rules in Wisconsin that allowed more students to use vouchers, both by expanding the Milwaukee program and establishing the Racine and statewide private-school voucher programs.

The statewide program is now funding vouchers predominantly for students who were already attending those private schools.

Related: Comparing Milwaukee Public and Voucher Schools’ Per Student Spending
.




Madison’s Lengthy K-12 Challenges Become Election Grist; Spends 22% more per student than Milwaukee



Madison 2005 (reflecting 1998):

When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before
On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

In 1998, the Madison School Board adopted an important academic goal: “that all students complete the 3rd grade able to read at or beyond grade level”. We adopted this goal in response to recommendations from a citizen study group that believed that minority students who are not competent as readers by the end of the third grade fall behind in all academic areas after third grade.

As of 2013, the situation has not changed, unfortunately.

Madison, 2014, the view from Milwaukee:

The largest state teachers union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, gave $1.3 million last month to the Greater Wisconsin Committee, a liberal group that has been running ads critical of Walker. Two of WEAC’s political action committees have given a total of $83,128 to Burke directly.

On the other side, the American Federation for Children said last year in a brochure that in the 2012 elections in Wisconsin, including the recalls that year, it had spent $2.4 million supporting pro-voucher candidates.

Along with family members, Dick and Betsy DeVos have given about $343,000 to Walker since 2009. The Grand Rapids, Mich., couple made their fortune in the marketing firm Amway and now support the voucher school movement.

The elections are critical because in general, each candidate’s stance on the issue of vouchers is largely dictated by their political party affiliation. If Republican candidates maintain control of both houses and the governor’s seat, voucher-friendly legislation is more likely to pass.

Democrats are trying to take control of the state Senate. Republicans hold the chamber 17-15, with one GOP-leaning seat vacant. Republicans have a stronger majority in the Assembly and the election is unlikely to change that.

Senate Democrats would oppose the expansion of voucher schools until standards and requirements are established that put those private schools on the same footing as public schools, Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) said.

…….

Walker on Wednesday also challenged Burke’s record on the Madison School Board.

He noted that the graduation rate for black students in Madison is lower than the graduation rate for black students in MPS.

Walker said Burke has had a chance to use his Act 10 law to save the taxpayers millions in Madison, and put those dollars toward alleviating the achievement gap.

“She’s failed to do that,” Walker said.

Burke responded that Madison is a fiscally responsible district that is one of the few in the state operating under its levy cap.

Madison still has a contract because the teachers union there challenged the Act 10 law in court, and a circuit court judge ruling initially swung in its favor. The teachers union subsequently bargained a contract this year and next year with the district.

Then this summer, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld Walker’s Act 10 law.

Madison 2014, gazing into the mirror:

Gov. Scott Walker took the campaign against Democratic opponent Mary Burke to her front door Wednesday, accusing the one-term Madison School Board member of not doing enough to improve black students’ graduation rates in Madison.

Walker argued that the Madison School Board could have put more money toward raising graduation rates and academic achievement if it had taken advantage of his controversial 2011 measure known as Act 10, which effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers, instead of choosing to negotiate a contract with its teachers union for the 2015-16 school year earlier this summer.

“Voters may be shocked to learn that the African-American graduation rate in Madison (where Mary Burke is on the board) is worse than in MKE,” Walker tweeted Wednesday morning.

Burke shot back that Walker’s comments were “short sighted” and showed “a lack of knowledge” of how to improve student academic achievement.

In 2013, 53.7 percent of black students in Madison graduated in four years. In Milwaukee, the rate was 58.3 percent, according to state Department of Public Instruction data. That gap is smaller than it was in 2012, when the 4-year completion rate among black students was 55 percent in Madison and 62 percent in Milwaukee.

Overall, the 2013 graduation rates for the two largest school districts in Wisconsin was 78.3 percent in Madison and 60.6 percent in Milwaukee.

Under Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, the district has made progress in the last year toward improving overall student achievement, Burke said in a call with reporters. School Board president Arlene Silveira also said Wednesday the district has started to move the needle under Cheatham.

“Is it enough progress? No. We still have a lot of work to go, and whether you’re talking about African-American (graduation rates) in Madison or talking about (rates) in Milwaukee, they are too low,” Burke said. “But the key to improving student learning, that anyone who really looks at education knows, is the quality of the teacher in the classroom.”

Decades go by, yet the status quo reigns locally.

A few background links:

1. http://www.wisconsin2.org

2. Wisconsin K-12 Spending Dominates “Local Transfers”.

3. Mandarins vs. leaders The Economist:

Central to his thinking was a distinction between managers and leaders. Managers are people who like to do things right, he argued. Leaders are people who do the right thing. Managers have their eye on the bottom line. Leaders have their eye on the horizon. Managers help you to get to where you want to go. Leaders tell you what it is you want. He chastised business schools for focusing on the first at the expense of the second. People took MBAs, he said, not because they wanted to be middle managers but because they wanted to be chief executives. He argued that “failing organisations are usually over-managed and under-led”.

Mr Bennis believed leaders are made, not born. He taught that leadership is a skill—or, rather, a set of skills—that can be learned through hard work. He likened it to a performance. Leaders must inhabit their roles, as actors do. This means more than just learning to see yourself as others see you, though that matters, too. It means self-discovery. “The process of becoming a leader is similar, if not identical, to becoming a fully integrated human being,” he said in 2009. Mr Bennis knew whereof he spoke: he spent a small fortune on psychoanalysis as a graduate student, dabbled in “channelling” and astrology while a tenured professor and wrote a wonderful memoir, “Still Surprised”.

2009: The elimination of “revenue limits and economic conditions” from collective bargaining arbitration by Wisconsin’s Democratically controlled Assembly and Senate along with Democratic Governer Jim Doyle:

To make matters more dire, the long-term legislative proposal specifically exempts school district arbitrations from the requirement that arbitrators consider and give the greatest weight to revenue limits and local economic conditions. While arbitrators would continue to give these two factors paramount consideration when deciding cases for all other local governments, the importance of fiscal limits and local economic conditions would be specifically diminished for school district arbitration.

A political soundbyte example:

Candidate Burke’s “operating under its levy cap” soundbyte was a shrewd, easily overlooked comment, yet neglects to point out Madison’s property tax base wealth vs. Milwaukee, the District’s spending levels when state revenue limits were put in place and the local referendums that have approved additional expenditures (despite open questions on where the additional funds were spent).

I hope that she will be more detailed in future comments. We’ve had decades of soundbytes and routing around tough choices.

Madison’s challenges, while spending and staffing more than most, will continue to be under the political microscope.

I hope that we see a substantive discussion of K-12 spending, curriculum and our agrarian era structures.

The candidates on Education:

Mary Burke:

Education has always offered a way up to a good job and a better life. It’s the fabric of our communities, and it’s the key to a strong economy in the long term.

As co-founder of the AVID/TOPs program, a public-private partnership that is narrowing the achievement gap for low income students, Mary knows that every Wisconsin student prepared to work hard can realize their dreams if given the support they need. By bringing together area high schools, the Boys & Girls Club, technical colleges, businesses and the University, Mary made a real difference for students, many of whom are the first in their family to attend college. The first class graduated last spring, and in September, over 90% of those students enrolled in post-secondary education.

Mary believes Wisconsin schools should be among the best in the nation—and she knows that making historic cuts isn’t the way to do it. She’ll work every day to strengthen our public education system, from K-12 to our technical colleges and university system. Mary strongly opposed the statewide expansion of vouchers—as governor, she’ll work to stop any further expansion, and ensure that all private schools taking public dollars have real accountability measures in place.

Scott Walker:

“We trust teachers, counselors and administrators to provide our children world-class instruction, to motivate them and to keep them safe. In the vast majority of cases, education professionals are succeeding, but allowing some schools to fail means too many students being left behind. By ensuring students are learning a year’s worth of knowledge during each school year and giving schools the freedom to succeed, Wisconsin will once again become a model for the nation.” — Scott Walker

For years, Wisconsin had the distinction of being a national leader in educational reform. From the groundbreaking Milwaukee Parental Choice Program to policies aimed at expanding the role of charter schools in communities across the state, Wisconsin was viewed as a pioneer in educational innovation and creativity.

Wisconsin used to rank 3rd in fourth grade reading, now we’re in the middle of the pack at best with some of the worst achievement gaps in the nation.

Fortunately, Wisconsin has turned a corner and is once again becoming a leader in educational excellence by refocusing on success in the classroom. This has been done by pinpointing the following simple but effective reforms:

  • Improving transparency
  • Improving accountability
  • Creating choice

We are working to restore Wisconsin’s rightful place as an education leader. Our students, our teachers, and our state’s future depend on our continued implementation of reform.

A look at District spending:

Per student spending: Milwaukee’s 2013-2014 budget: $948,345,675 for 78,461 students or $12,086/student. Budget details (PDF).

Madison plans to spend $402,464,374 for 27,186 students (some pre-k) this year or about $14,804/student, 22% more than Milwaukee. Details.

And, finally, 2010: WEAC: $1.57 million for four senators.




Election, Tax & Spending Climate: As new year school year begins, Wisconsin’s education scene lacks energy



Alan Borsuk

In recent years on this Sunday, the last before most kids start school, I have offered thoughts on what is new and worth watching on the school scene in Wisconsin and particularly in Milwaukee.

I started to make up a list for this year and was struck by how, um, boring it was. Permit me to try a different approach, namely, a debate with myself (I win!) over this proposition:

Wisconsin education is suffering a serious case of the blahs.

In defense of this statement, I point to how few new schools, new programs and initiatives there are this year, particularly in Milwaukee.

With its large voucher and charter sectors and with Milwaukee Public Schools frequently undergoing changes, you could count on Milwaukee to offer new developments each fall in recent years.

This year, there’s not much. A few programs are being launched or growing, such as the addition of parent centers in many Milwaukee schools that didn’t have them until now. But it’s really kind of status quo out there. And it’s a status quo in which less than one in five MPS students are rated as proficient or better in reading.

Consider my snapshot summary of the three big sectors of Milwaukee schools:

Unfortunately, status quo governance has become the norm in Madison and generally across the Badger State. Our agrarian era K-12 governance structures persist, mostly on the fumes of the past. Yet, spending continues to grow, with Madison’s $15,000+ / student double the national average, despite long term disastrous reading results. A 2012 comparison with the Austin, TX school district is worth a look.




Media Reality Check on Madison’s K-12 Tax & Spending



Molly Beck, writing for the Wisconsin State Journal:

Madison schools could see a $2.6 million increase in state aid next school year, but that’s about $5.6 million less than what district officials assumed when the School Board passed its preliminary budget last month, according to state estimates released Tuesday.

The Madison School District expected its state aid to increase from $52.2 million to $60.4 million for the 2014-15 school year, according to its preliminary budget, but the state Department of Public Instruction projects the district to receive $54.8 million. That number could change by October, when final payments will be known after districts report student enrollments, DPI spokesman Tom McCarthy said.

School Board vice president James Howard said he isn’t sure what factors or assumptions the district used to project the higher level of state aid.

“That’s a very good question, and that’s one we’ll all be looking for an answer for,” said Howard. “If the preliminary budget is based on that $60 million state aid estimate, then that’s going to be an issue.”

District spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson said officials expected state aid would cover more of the district’s costs under Wisconsin’s complex funding formula.

Pat Schneider writing for the Capital Times:

Like most school districts in the state, Madison Metropolitan School District is likely to see a boost in state aid for next year, the Department of Public Instruction reports.

Madison is projected to receive $54.89 million in general school aid in the 2014-15 school year, up $2.69 million, or 5.1 percent, from the year before.

Total general school is set at $4.47 billion for 2014-15, a 2.1 percent increase compared to last school year, the DPI says. Actual aid payments are estimated at $4.3 billion because of statutory reductions for the Milwaukee voucher program and for independent charter schools in Milwaukee and Racine

Of the state’s 424 school districts, 53 percent will receive more general aid in 2014-15, while 47 percent of districts are expected to receive less aid.

Among those projected to receive less is Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, which is expected to receive $8.29 million in general state aid, down $1.47 million, or 15.1 percent, from the year before.

Enrollment and property values are big influences on the state general aid calculation, says Tom McCarthy, DPI communications officer. Aid increases with increased enrollment and decreases as property values rise, he said.

Perhaps Capital Newspapers might dive a bit deeper and share historic hard numbers with readers?

Remarkable.




Commentary on the Growth in Federal K-12 Redistributed Tax Dollar Spending



Reihan Salam:

Rather than shift the tax burden from households with children to relatively high-earning households without children, Felix Salmon of Reuters proposes increasing federal education funding. This strikes me as ill-conceived for a number of reasons. If anything, I would suggest that we move in the opposite direction. Though federal spending represents a relatively small share of K-12 spending at present (13 percent of the total as of 2010), this understates the extent of federal influence, as federal mandates shape how much of the remaining spending is disbursed. And so the U.S. has a far more centralized, far more tightly-regulated K-12 system than is commonly understood. The chief virtues of a decentralized system — the potential for innovation as different jurisdictions and educational providers embrace new approaches to instruction, management, compensation, recruitment, and scaling successful approaches, among other things — are greatly undermined by the prescriptiveness of federal education policy, which has grown worse under the Obama administration thanks to its use of policy waivers to impose its vision of education reform on local districts. We thus have the worst of both worlds: we have a theoretically decentralized system plagued by a lack of creativity and experimentation outside of charter schools, which serve fewer than 4 percent of K-12 public school students; and we have a federal government that imposes enormous compliance costs on K-12 schools without actually providing much in the way of resources. Salmon’s strategy is to double down on centralization; let’s keep imposing compliance costs, yet let’s at least do more to finance schools as well. Another approach would be to foster creativity and experimentation by having the federal government take on the tasks to which it is best suited.

As Rick Hess and Andrew Kelly of the American Enterprise Institute have argued, the federal government could play to its strengths by abandoning its efforts to tightly regulate local schools and instead (a) promote basic research in cognitive science and human learning; (b) serve as a “scorekeeper” that measures educational outcomes and, just as importantly, spending levels across districts and student populations so that the public will have more reliable data on the return on investment; (c) encourage competition and innovation not by prescribing that local communities embrace charter schools or vouchers (though both ideas could do a great deal of good, and state and local electorates ought to embrace these ideas of their own volition) but by addressing the compliance costs created by federal mandates, encouraging alternative paths to teacher certification to expand the teacher talent pool and get around onerous licensing requirement; and (d) develop a bankruptcy-like mechanism that would allow dysfunctional school districts to restructure their obligations without first having to appeal to state education authorities. One of the more attractive aspects of this agenda, incidentally, is that it largely allows contentious questions about the best approach to educating children to state and local officials while providing parents and policymakers with meaningful yardsticks to evaluate the success or failure of different approaches.




On Voucher Schools & Students



Stephanie Simon:

Ever since the administration filed suit to freeze Louisiana’s school voucher program, high-ranking Republicans have pummeled President Barack Obama for trapping poor kids in failing public schools.
The entire House leadership sent a letter of protest. Majority Leader Eric Cantor blistered the president for denying poor kids “a way into a brighter future.” And Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal accused him of “ripping low-income minority students out of good schools” that could “help them achieve their dreams.”
But behind the outrage is an inconvenient truth: Taxpayers across the U.S. will soon be spending $1 billion a year to help families pay private school tuition — and there’s little evidence that the investment yields academic gains.
In Milwaukee, just 13 percent of voucher students scored proficient in math and 11 percent made the bar in reading this spring. That’s worse on both counts than students in the city’s public schools. In Cleveland, voucher students in most grades performed worse than their peers in public schools in math, though they did better in reading.
In New Orleans, voucher students who struggle academically haven’t advanced to grade-level work any faster over the past two years than students in public schools, many of which are rated D or F, state data show.

Notes and links on Simon’s Politico article here. Fascinating.




Getting beyond insults in the school choice debate; Responding to the Madison School Board President on Vouchers, Parents & School Climate



Rick Esenberg, via a kind reader’s email:

Whether or not he is right, we are left with, again, with the very philosophical divide that I identified. Mr. Hughes thinks that centralized and collective decision-making will more properly value diversity (as he defines it) and make better educational choices for children than their parents will.
Of course to describe a philosophical divide does not tell us who has the better of the argument. Mr. Hughes defends his position by relying on a 2007 “study” by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute which, strictly speaking, was not a study at all and had more to do with the impact of choice on public schools than its value to the families who participate in the program.
The 2007 WPRI publication collected no data on what was actually happening in Milwaukee. It simply took a national data base on the educational involvement of families and extrapolated it to Milwaukee based on the socioeconomic characteristics of Milwaukee families. It was, strictly speaking, nothing more than a calculation. If low income and minority families in Milwaukee behave like low income and minority families nationally, the calculation showed, then, based on certain assumptions, very few would engage in informed decision-making regarding their children’s education.
It was an interesting and thought provoking exercise but one with an obvious limitation. It is not at all clear that national findings would extend to a city with a relatively longstanding and actively promoted choice program. It is possible that the existence of a greater array of educational choices would change the incentives and capacity of parents to engage in the informed and engaged decision-making that would otherwise not happen.
Beyond that, the fact that only a subset of families will exercise a choice tells us precisely nothing about whether they ought to have the opportunity to make one – unless you entertain a presumption against individual choice and a diversity of alternatives in education.
Mr. Hughes argues that education is an “experience good” which is a fancy way of saying that it is something that consumers have a difficult time evaluating before deciding whether to buy it. But, again, the extent to which you think something is that type of good (many things are difficult to be sure about before you try them) and whether, having decided it is, you think that people should have someone else choose for them reflects very philosophical divide I’m concerned with.

We know best” has long been associated with parts of Madison’s K-12 community, despite long term, disastrous reading scores and spending twice the national average per student.
Background: “The notion that parents inherently know what school is best for their kids is an example of conservative magical thinking.”; “For whatever reason, parents as a group tend to undervalue the benefits of diversity in the public schools….”.
It would certainly be useful to spend a bit of time learning about Milwaukee’s experiences, positive and negative with a far more open k-12 climate. The results of Madison’s insular, non-diverse approach are an embarrassment to students, citizens, taxpayers and employers.





Commentary on Wisconsin K-12 Tax & Spending Increases, Voucher Changes



Jason Stein

Lawmakers also want to expand school voucher programs beyond the borders of Milwaukee and eastern Racine County. The programs allow parents who meet income thresholds to send their children to religious schools and other private schools at taxpayer expense.
Under the motion approved 12-4 along party lines by Republicans on the budget panel:

  • Public schools would receive $150 more per student in general aid this fall and another $150 increase the following year. The plan would cost $289 million over two years, with $231.5 million funded with state taxes and the rest with an additional $52 million in higher local property taxes and an increase in expected revenues from the state lottery.
    School districts would have the authority to spend this new money. Walker wanted to give schools $129 million in state aid but require all of it to go toward property tax relief, rather than be used for new expenses.
    Under the budget committee’s proposal, total property taxes would increase by less than 1% per year, with school levies going up somewhat more than that.

  • A new voucher program would become available to all students outside Milwaukee and Racine. It would be limited to 500 students the first year and 1,000 students every year thereafter. Walker wanted no limits on the number of students in the program after the second year.
    If there are more students seeking slots in the program than allowed, the proposal would allocate the available slots by lottery. The slots would go to the 25 schools with the most applications, with each school getting at least 10 seats.

  • The new program would be available to students in any school district. Walker wanted to make it available in districts with 4,000 or more students that were identified as struggling on school report cards issued by the state.
  • No more than 1% of the students of any given school district could participate in the new program.
  • Over 12 years, the negative financial impacts for the Milwaukee Public Schools from the voucher program here would be phased out.
  • The new program would be available to students of families making 185% of the federal poverty level or less — well below the income thresholds for Milwaukee and Racine. Those programs are available to families making up to 300% of the federal poverty level, with a higher threshold for married couples.
  • Voucher schools in all parts of the state would receive $7,210 per K-8 student and $7,856 per high school student — up from $6,442 currently. Walker wanted to provide $7,050 for students in kindergarten through eighth grade and the same larger increase to high school students.



Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Tony Evers (PDF):

Today, Republican leaders are finalizing a deal to likely expand Wisconsin’s private school voucher program statewide. While this dramatic proposal has significant implications for citizens and taxpayers across Wisconsin, it has been developed behind closed doors with no public input, no public hearings, and no public fiscal analysis. If this proposal becomes law, taxpayers across Wisconsin will be financing a new entitlement for private school children whose tuition is currently paid for by their parents. To address the lack of information about the potential fiscal effects of this program, the attached table estimates potential long-term costs of statewide subsidization of private school tuition on a district-by-district basis. Cost to subsidize current private school students only: up to $560 million annually
While some lawmakers claim the purpose of the program is to provide educational choices to those who cannot afford it, the current school choice programs in Milwaukee and Racine provide vouchers to families who are already choosing to send their children to private schools. As many as 50% of the children participating in the Racine choice program were already in private schools when they began receiving a state-funded subsidy in
2011-12. If the voucher program is expanded statewide, it can be assumed that current private school families would also be eligible for this new entitlement.

Related:




Evidence doesn’t support choice program expansion, Comparing Per Student Spending



Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Legislators should be skeptical of a proposal by Gov. Scott Walker to sharply expand the school voucher program. There isn’t much evidence that students in voucher schools are better educated; in fact, they seem to perform at about the same level as their peers in mainline public schools.
We also remain deeply skeptical of the move by the Legislature two years ago to open up the program to lower middle-income families. If there is any justification for the voucher schools, it’s to give impoverished families a “choice.” We have long supported choice for the poor and believe the program should be limited to those families. Republicans essentially are advocating a shadow school system. Why not work harder to adequately fund and hold accountable the system we have?
Walker’s plan would expand private voucher programs to at least nine other districts outside Milwaukee and Racine. Families with income of to about $70,000 a year would be eligible.
Before they act, legislators should take a close look at outcomes.
In a report released last month, the state Department of Public Instruction found that students attending voucher schools in Milwaukee and Racine scored lower than public school students in Milwaukee Public Schools and the Racine Unified School District on the state standardized achievement test.

Comparing Milwaukee Public and Voucher Schools’ Per Student Spending

I find discussions of the per-pupil funding level of different types of Milwaukee schools usually turns into a debate on how to make a true apples-to-apples comparison of per-pupil support for the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) and the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP). While basic differences in MPS and MPCP schools and their cost-drivers make any comparison imperfect, the following is what you might call a green apples to red apples comparison.
DISCLAIMER: if you not interested in school funding, prepare to be bored.
Per-pupil support for MPS
Note I am not trying to calculate per-pupil education funding or suggest that this is the amount of money that actually reaches a school or classroom; it is a simple global picture of how much public revenue exists per-pupil in MPS. Below are the relevant numbers for 2012, from MPS documents:
…….
Though not perfect, I think $13,063 (MPS) and $7,126 (MPCP) are reasonably comparative per-pupil public support numbers for MPS and the MPCP.




The Coming Revolution in Public Education: Critics say the standardized test-driven reforms pushed by those like Michelle Rhee may actually be harming students.



John Tierney:

It’s always hard to tell for sure exactly when a revolution starts. Is it when a few discontented people gather in a room to discuss how the ruling regime might be opposed? Is it when first shots are fired? When a critical mass forms and the opposition acquires sufficient weight to have a chance of prevailing? I’m not an expert on revolutions, but even I can see that a new one is taking shape in American K-12 public education.
The dominant regime for the past decade or more has been what is sometimes called accountability-based reform or, by many of its critics, “corporate education reform.” The reforms consist of various initiatives aimed at (among other things): improving schools and educational outcomes by using standardized tests to measure what students are learning; holding schools and teachers accountable (through school closures and teacher pay cuts) when their students are “lagging” on those standardized assessments; controlling classroom instruction and increasing the rigor of school curricula by pushing all states to adopt the same challenging standards via a “Common Core;” and using market-like competitive pressures (through the spread of charter schools and educational voucher programs) to provide public schools with incentives to improve.
Critics of the contemporary reform regime argue that these initiatives, though seemingly sensible in their original framing, are motivated by interests other than educational improvement and are causing genuine harm to American students and public schools. Here are some of the criticisms: the reforms have self-interest and profit motives, not educational improvement, as their basis; corporate interests are reaping huge benefits from these reform initiatives and spending millions of dollars lobbying to keep those benefits flowing; three big foundations (Gates, Broad, and Walton Family) are funding much of the backing for the corporate reforms and are spending billions to market and sell reforms that don’t work; ancillary goals of these reforms are to bust teacher unions, disempower educators, and reduce spending on public schools; standardized testing is enormously expensive in terms both of public expenditures and the diversion of instruction time to test prep; over a third of charter schools deliver “significantly worse” results for students than the traditional public schools from which they were diverted; and, finally, that these reforms have produced few benefits and have actually caused harm, especially to kids in disadvantaged areas and communities of color. (On that last overall point, see this scathing new report from the Economic Policy Institute.)




NJ DOE Releases New School Performance Reports; Wisconsin? Stays Quo…



Laura Waters:

At long last the New Jersey Department of Education has released its “NJ School Performance Reports,” which replace the old School Report Cards. Details on school performance is greatly expanded now includes, according to the Christie Administration’s press release, “brand new data on college and career readiness and provide comparison to “peer schools” in order to provide a more complete picture of school performance for educators and the general public.”
Here’s coverage from the Star-Ledger, The Record, the Courier-Post, Asbury Park Press, Press of Atlantic City, NJ Spotlight, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The state also released the annual Taxpayers’ Guide to Education. Annual per pupil spending in NJ (if you use the state’s algorithm; others say it inflates costs) is $18,045, up 4.2% since last year.
Of course, there’s enormous range within that average. Fairview Boro (Bergen), for example, spends $13,317 per pupil. Asbury Park City spends $30,502. The plush magnet schools in Bergen County spend $35,900.

The Wisconsin DPI…..
April, 2013: Chief among them has been this notion from state superintendent Tony Evers that the state’s new accountability system, known as state report cards, shouldn’t be used to determine which districts get vouchers.
.
March, 2013: Evers on report cards: this last year was a pilot year. It’s just not ready for prime time.
June, 2008: “Schools should not rely on only WKCE data to gauge progress of individual students or to determine effectiveness of programs or curriculum”.




Madison’s New Superintendent on Madison, Politics & Distractions



Pat Schneider:

You’ll find Jennifer Cheatham, new superintendent of the Madison School District, at the Capitol Wednesday when local education officials talk about how Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget would hurt Dane County schools.
But don’t expect her to be spending much time making political statements, Cheatham told me and other staff members of the Cap Times Tuesday. Too much focus on politics would distract her from her work in the Madison schools, she said.
“I think my major role is to work on improving schools in Madison. That’s why I was hired and I need to remain focused on that,” Cheatham said. “But I do think there are times it is important for me to voice my opinion on behalf of the school district on state issues.”
That includes the Walker education budget.
Cheatham is scheduled to be on hand at noon Wednesday when School Board members, superintendents, parents and other advocates from around Dane County talk about the impact of Walker’s education proposals in Room 411, the large Senate meeting room.
The Madison School Board has already actively lobbied against the Walker budget, urging local legislators not to support a plan that is “bad for our students, our taxpayers and the future of public education.”
Board members say expanding vouchers into Madison, as Walker has proposed, is a particularly bad idea. They note there’s no consistent evidence that kids using publicly funded vouchers to attend private schools do better academically, and they say that funding vouchers is likely to raise local property taxes.
It’s not just school officials who are weighing in on the highly politicized issue of school vouchers. The Madison City Council passed a resolution last month, sponsored by all 20 members, opposing expansion of vouchers to Madison. The Dane County Board is considering a similar resolution.

Reading has been job one for quite some time, unfortunately.
Right to read lawsuit filed in Michigan.




“Voucher Voodoo: Smart Kids Shine Here” (Madison); A few links to consider




Tap on the image to view a larger version. Source: The Global Report Card.


Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the Madison school district’s achievement gap problems and other challenges we face. I’ve also been responding to the outlandish notion that Madison is a failing school district whose students deserve private school vouchers as their only lifeline to academic success.
At times like this, I find it helpful to remember that Madison’s schools are educating many, many students who are succeeding. Some of them are succeeding spectacularly. With apologies to those I’m overlooking, here’s a brief run-down on some of our stars –
Madison Memorial’s recently-formed science bowl team won the Wisconsin state championship in January. The team of seniors Srikar Adibhatla, Sohil Shah, Thejas Wesley and William Xiang and sophomore Brian Luo will represent Wisconsin in the National Science Bowl Championship in Washington, D.C. in April.

Related:
Credit for non-Madison School District courses and the Talented and Gifted complaint.
Census.gov on Madison’s demographics, compared to College Station, TX. 52.9% of Madison residents have a bachelor’s degree, compared to the State’s 26%. 57.5% of College Station, Texas’s residents have a college degree.
Madison High School UW-Madison and University of Wisconsin System enrollment trends 1983-2011:
East LaFollette, Memorial, West, Edgewood.
Where have all the students, gone? A look at suburban Madison enrollment changes.
National Merit Semifinalists & Wisconsin’s cut scores.
Madison’s nearly $15k per student annual spending, community support and higher education infrastructure provide the raw materials for world class public schools. Benchmarking ourselves against world leaders would seem to be a great place to begin.




Continuing to Advocate Status Quo Governance & Spending (Outcomes?) in Madison



Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

First, I provide some background on the private school voucher imposition proposal. Next, I list thirteen ways in which the proposal and its advocates are hypocritical, inconsistent, irrational, or just plain wrong. Finally, I briefly explain for the benefit of Wisconsin Federation for Children why the students in Madison are not attending failing schools.

Related: Counterpoint by David Blaska.
Does the School Board Matter? Ed Hughes argues that experience does, but what about “Governance” and “Student Achievement”?
2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.
Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2009: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use. This program continues, despite the results.
2004: Madison Schools Distort Reading Data (2004) by Mark Seidenberg.
2012: Madison Mayor Paul Soglin: “We are not interested in the development of new charter schools”
Scott Bauer

Almost half of Wisconsin residents say they haven’t heard enough about voucher schools to form an opinion, according to the Marquette University law school poll. Some 27 percent of respondents said they have a favorable view of voucher schools while 24 percent have an unfavorable view. But a full 43 percent said they hadn’t heard enough about them to form an opinion.
“There probably is still more room for political leadership on both sides to try to put forward convincing arguments and move opinion in their direction,” pollster Charles Franklin said.
The initial poll question about vouchers only asked for favorability perceptions without addressing what voucher schools are. In a follow-up question, respondents were told that vouchers are payments from the state using taxpayer money to fund parents’ choices of private or religious schools.
With that cue, 51 percent favored it in some form while 42 percent opposed it.
Walker is a staunch voucher supporter.

More on the voucher proposal, here.
www.wisconsin2.org
A close observer of Madison’s $392,789,303 K-12 public school district ($14,547/student) for more than nine years, I find it difficult to see substantive change succeeding. And, I am an optimist.
It will be far better for us to address the District’s disastrous reading results locally, than to have change imposed from State or Federal litigation or legal changes. Or, perhaps a more diffused approach to redistributed state tax dollar spending.




Wisconsin schools superintendent: Lawmakers should reject Scott Walker’s voucher expansion



Jason Stein:

Addressing the most contentious issue in Gov. Scott Walker’s budget bill, state Schools Superintendent Tony Evers on Thursday called on members of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee to reject a proposed expansion of voucher schools and to give more money to public schools.
Citing figures from the Legislature’s nonpartisan budget office, Evers said the $129 million in new state aid Walker included in his two-year budget bill drops to $39.2 million after accounting for how part of that money would go to private and charter schools under the proposal. Walker seeks to increase funding for existing and future voucher schools, expand them to nine new school districts and allow special-needs students from around the state to attend private schools at taxpayer expense.
At the same time, Walker wants to use the state public school aid to hold down local property taxes rather than increase spending on education.
Evers, who is running for re-election on April 2 against Rep. Don Pridemore (R-Erin), said Walker’s budget pitted public schools against private schools by increasing state funding for voucher school initiatives by 32% while keeping overall revenue to schools flat.
“This has to stop. The state cannot continue to play favorites. We can and must meet our constitutional obligation to invest in all of our kids,” Evers said.
In its third straight day of budget hearings, the Joint Finance Committee took testimony Thursday on Walker’s 2013-’15 budget proposals for Wisconsin’s K-12 schools, technical colleges and universities. The hearing made clear that the governor’s education proposals will face resistance from some senators in the Republican-controlled Senate and have strong support from Republicans in charge of the Assembly, leaving its future in doubt.




Majority of Wisconsin Senate Republicans oppose voucher expansion



Jason Stein & Patrick Marley:

Gov. Scott Walker’s ambitious plan to expand taxpayer-funded private schools faltered in the Legislature on Wednesday, with several influential GOP lawmakers making clear the proposal would need major changes to pass.
The lawmakers from the governor’s own party largely acknowledged that some expansion of voucher schools will pass the Legislature in the coming months. But the legislators – who included the top two Senate leaders and chairmen of the Legislature’s education committees – said the expansion would be different from the proposal Walker laid out in his budget bill last month.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said a majority of GOP senators do not support Walker’s proposal as currently written. Fitzgerald said that he called a meeting held Tuesday with Walker’s aides, Assembly Republican leaders and representatives of voucher schools to see if a compromise proposal might be worked out.
“Some people in our caucus looked at what the governor proposed and said, ‘Hmm, let’s maybe think about that,’ and I must say the governor was open to that. He’s not dug in on anything,” Fitzgerald said of changes to the governor’s budget.
Walker is seeking to increase funding for voucher schools, expand them to nine new school districts in the state and allow special-needs students from around the state to attend private schools at taxpayer expense. At the same time, he wants to provide $129 million in new state aid to public schools over two years but keep schools’ spending in state aid and property taxes flat, ensuring that the state money will be used to lower local property taxes.




Does the School Board Matter? Ed Hughes argues that experience does, but what about “Governance” and “Student Achievement”?



Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes

Call me crazy, but I think a record of involvement in our schools is a prerequisite for a School Board member. Sitting at the Board table isn’t the place to be learning the names of our schools or our principals.
Wayne Strong, TJ Mertz and James Howard rise far above their opponents for those of us who value School Board members with a history of engagement in local educational issues and a demonstrated record of commitment to our Madison schools and the students we serve.

Notes and links on Ed Hughes and the 2013 Madison School Board election.
I’ve become a broken record vis a vis Madison’s disastrous reading results. The District has been largely operating on auto-pilot for decades. It is as if a 1940’s/1950’s model is sufficient. Spending increases annually (at lower rates in recent years – roughly $15k/student), yet Madison’s disastrous reading results continue, apace.
Four links for your consideration.
When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.
Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use. This program continues, despite the results.
3rd Grade Madison School District Reading Proficiency Data (“Achievement Gap Plan”)

The other useful stat buried in the materials is on the second page 3 (= 6th page), showing that the 3rd grade proficiency rate for black students on WKCE, converted to NAEP-scale proficiency, is 6.8%, with the accountability plan targeting this percentage to increase to 23% over one school year. Not sure how this happens when the proficiency rate (by any measure) has been decreasing year over year for quite some time. Because the new DPI school report cards don’t present data on an aggregated basis district-wide nor disaggregated by income and ethnicity by grade level, the stats in the MMSD report are very useful, if one reads the fine print.

Madison Schools Distort Reading Data (2004) by Mark Seidenberg.
How many School Board elections, meetings, votes have taken place since 2005 (a number of candidates were elected unopposed)? How many Superintendents have been hired, retired or moved? Yet, the core structure remains. This, in my view is why we have seen the move to a more diffused governance model in many communities with charters, vouchers and online options.
Change is surely coming. Ideally, Madison should drive this rather than State or Federal requirements. I suspect it will be the latter, in the end, that opens up our monolithic, we know best approach to public education.




Is latest Wisconsin voucher plan really an attack?



Chris Rickert:

think of it this way: The government contracts for goods and services all the time. Contracting out our societal obligation to educate our children isn’t all that different.
As with any other private organization that wins a publicly funded contract, private schools that take vouchers should provide the same kind of quality and access we expect of our other public services and infrastructure.
Jim Bender, president of the pro-voucher School Choice Wisconsin, largely agrees.
And Department of Public Instruction spokesman Patrick Gasper said his agency “is in conversation with legislators, private schools and the governor’s office to find a way to bring schools participating in the voucher program into an accountability system.”
Voucher students in private schools already have to take the same state-mandated tests as public school students, and private schools must use admissions lotteries to prevent them cherry-picking the best voucher students.

Numerous notes and links on vouchers, accountability and per student spending can be found here.




Wisconsin Governor: Scott Walker proposes expanding voucher school program, raising taxpayer support



Jason Stein and Patrick Marley:

Gov. Scott Walker is proposing increasing by at least 9% the taxpayer funding provided to private and religious voucher schools – an increase many times larger in percentage terms than the increase in state tax money he’s seeking for public schools.
The increase in funding for existing voucher schools in Milwaukee and Racine, the first since 2009, comes as the Republican governor seeks to expand the program to nine new districts, including Waukesha, West Allis-West Milwaukee and Madison. Walker is also proposing allowing special-needs students from around the state to attend private schools at taxpayer expense.
Even after the proposed increase to voucher funding and the substantial cuts Walker and lawmakers approved for public schools in 2011, the aid provided to voucher schools would still be substantially less on a per-pupil basis than the overall state and local taxes provided to public schools.
But to provide that bigger increase to voucher schools, the Republican governor will need to persuade lawmakers to break a link in state law that currently binds the percentage increase in aid to voucher schools to the percentage increase in state general aid given to public schools.

Related links:

Finally, perhaps everyone might focus on the big goals: world class schools.


Wisconsin Governor Walker’s education reforms include voucher expansion and more



Matthew DeFour

Walker’s reform proposals include:

  • Expanding private school vouchers to school districts with at least 4,000 students and at least two schools receiving school report card grades of “fails to meet expectations” or “meets few expectations.” The expansion, which would include Madison schools, would be capped at 500 students statewide next year and 1,000 students the following year.
  • Creating a statewide charter school oversight board, which would approve local nonreligious, nonprofit organizations to create and oversee independent charter schools. Only students from districts that qualify for vouchers could attend the charter schools. Authorizers would have to provide annual performance reports about the schools.
  • Expanding the Youth Options program, which allows public school students to access courses offered by other public schools, virtual schools, the UW System, technical colleges and other organizations approved by the Department of Public Instruction.
  • Granting special education students a private school voucher.
  • Eliminating grade and residency restrictions for home-schooled students who take some courses in a public school district. School districts would receive additional state funding for home-schooled students who access public school courses or attend virtual schools.

Additionally, Walker’s spokesman confirmed plans to make no additional funding available for public schools in the budget he plans to propose Wednesday.

Related links:

Finally, perhaps everyone might focus on the big goals: world class schools.


Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Proposes a 1% K-12 Redistributed State Tax Dollar Spending Increase



Associated Press:

Gov. Scott Walker will propose a modest increase in funding for Wisconsin public schools in his budget to the Legislature on Wednesday, two years after his steep cuts and all but elimination of collective bargaining for teachers sparked the unsuccessful movement to recall Walker from office.
Walker is also making incentive money available, which could be used as incentive payments for teachers based on how well schools perform on state report cards, Walker told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview.
Walker provided details of his education funding plan to the AP ahead of its public release Sunday. Not only will he put more money into K-12 schools in his two-year budget, Walker will increase funding for the University of Wisconsin System and technical colleges two years after their funding was also slashed.
The roughly 1 percent increase in aid to schools Walker is proposing comes after he cut aid by more than 8 percent in the first year of the last budget. Schools would get $129 million in aid under Walker’s plan, but total K-12 funding would go up $276 million

Related: Wisconsin State Tax Based K-12 Spending Growth Far Exceeds University Funding (2008).
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to propose modest increase in public school funding by Erin Richards & Scott Bauer::

Tom Beebe, project director for Opportunity to Learn Wisconsin, a liberal-leaning group and former executive director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools, has been critical of Walker’s cuts to education.
He said the amount of general aid increase proposed for this next biennial budget – $129.2 million over two years – only amounts to about $161 for each of Wisconsin’s 800,000 public-school students.
“If the revenue cap does not go up, then there is no new money going to schools no matter how much aid increases,” Beebe said. “The increase in school funding simply goes to property taxpayers not into the classroom.”
Mary Bell, president of the Wisconsin Education Association, the state’s largest teacher union, said the modest increase was really just keeping overall revenue for schools flat.
“The stagnant revenue on top of the largest cuts to education funding in Wisconsin history in the last budget is another clear indication that this governor has no intention of supporting neighborhood schools,” Bell said in a statement.
“(Walker’s) real focus is privatizing public education with another infusion of resources to the unaccountable taxpayer-funded private school voucher program while leaving our neighborhood public schools on life support,” she added.




Wisconsin and National School Spending Growth Perspectives



Laura Waters:

Andrew J. Coulson, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, has an editorial in the Wall St. Journal this week assailing the “explosive growth” in America’s public school work force. Since 1970, he charges, student enrollment has “flat-lined,” yet the number of teachers and instructional aides has doubled, from 3.3 million to 6.4 million, with concurrent increases in costs.
Coulson writes, “America’s public schools have warehoused three million people in jobs that do little to improve student achievement–people who would be working productively in the private sector if that extra $210 billion were not taxed out of the economy each year.”
But there’s a panacea readily available: create state voucher systems to send all our kids to private schools. (Also, elect Mitt Romney because President Obama’s education agenda is an “expensive and tragic failure.”)
Whoa, Nellie!
While it’s no doubt a challenge to squish a radical paradigm shift within the confines of the WSJ’s 600-word limit, that’s no excuse for specious logic or casual disregard for facts. Worse, this sort of inflammatory rhetoric gives education reform a bad name.
For example, let’s look at Mr. Coulson’s claim that American public schools hire too many teachers and aides (i.e., have too low a teacher/student ratio), and that private schools are cheaper and produce higher-achieving students.
He writes, “If we returned to the student-staff ratio of 1970, American tax payers would save about $210 billion in personnel costs.”







Madison School Board member Ed Hughes:

There is no mystery about the size of the overall pie. The last budget under Governor Doyle appropriated $5,025,190,300 for elementary and secondary school aids for 2009-10 and $5,271,555,900 for 2010-11. Under Governor Walker’s budget, this total was cut to $4,845,083,000 for 2011-12 and $4,913,986,100 for 2012-13. So Governor Walker slashed general state aid to schools by about $538 million over the biennium. This is hardly cause for celebration.
How next year’s $4.9 billion in general state aid is split up among the state’s 424 school districts is determined by the school funding formula. I describe how the formula works here. This year, to just about everyone’s surprise, the formula has turned out to be Madison’s friend.
Last year, application of the school funding formula resulted in MMSD qualifying for about $15 million in general state aid. This amount was increased to about $43 million by virtue of the hold-harmless provision of the law that capped each school district’s reduction in state aid at 10% of the previous year’s total.
How could it be that the same formula that calculated that MMSD was entitled to $15 million in state aid in 2011-12 would determine that the district was in line for $53 million for 2012-13?


Wisconsin State Tax Based K-12 Spending Growth Far Exceeds University Funding




Interview: Henry Tyson, Superintendent of Milwaukee’s St. Marcus Elementary School



Henry Tyson, Superintendent of Milwaukee’s St. Marcus school recently talked with me [Transcript | mp3 audio] about his fascinating personal and professional education experience. St. Marcus is one of, if not the most successful scholarship schools in Milwaukee.
Henry discussed student, parent and teacher expectations, including an interesting program to educate and involve parents known as “Thankful Thursdays”. He further described their growth plans, specifically, the methods they are following to replicate the organization. In addition, I learned that St. Marcus tracks their students for 8 years after 8th grade graduation.
Finally, Henry discussed special education and their financial model, roughly $7,800/student annually of which $6,400 arrives from State of Wisconsin taxpayers in the form of a voucher. The remainder via local fundraising and church support.
He is quite bullish on the future of education in Milwaukee. I agree that in 15 to 20 years, Milwaukee’s education environment will be much, much improved. High expectations are of course critical to these improvements.
I appreciate the time Henry took to visit.
Related:




Milwaukee per-pupil spending fourth highest among 50 largest districts in nation, Madison spent 8% more; “Not geared toward driving those dollars back to the classroom” Well worth reading.



Erin Richards:

Of the 50 largest school districts by enrollment in the United States, Milwaukee Public Schools spent more per pupil than all but three East Coast districts in the 2009-’10 school year, according to public-school finance figures released by the Census Bureau on Thursday.
MPS ranked near the top among large districts by spending $14,038 per pupil in the 2010 fiscal year. It was outspent by the New York City School District, with the highest per-pupil spending among large districts – $19,597 – followed by Montgomery County Public Schools near Washington, D.C., and Baltimore City Public Schools in Maryland, which spent $15,582 and $14,711, respectively, per pupil that year.
MPS officials on Thursday acknowledged Milwaukee’s high per-pupil costs in comparison with other large districts, but they also pointed to unique local factors that drive up the cost, particularly the city’s high rate of poverty, the district’s high rate of students with special needs and other long-term costs, such as aging buildings and historically high benefit rates for MPS employees that the district is working to lower.
“The cost of doing business for Milwaukee Public Schools and Wisconsin is relatively high,” Superintendent Gregory Thornton said. “But because of legacy and structural costs, we were not geared toward driving those dollars back into the classroom.”
“What we have to be is more effective and efficient,” he said.

Madison’s 2009-2010 budget was $370,287,471, according to the now defunct Citizen’s Budget, $15,241 per student (24,295 students).
Why Milwaukee Public Schools’ per student spending is high by Mike Ford:

To the point, why is MPS per-pupil spending so high? There are two simple explanations.
First, as articulated by Dale Knapp of the Wisconsin Taxpayer’s Alliance in today’s story, MPS per-pupil spending is high because it has always been high. Since Wisconsin instituted revenue limits in the early 90s the amount of state aid and local tax revenue a district can raise (and correspondingly spend) per-pupil has been indexed to what a district raised in the prior year. In every state budget legislators specify the statewide allowable per-pupil revenue limit increase amount. Because MPS had a high base to begin with, the amount of revenue the district raises and spends per-pupil is always on the high side. Further, because annual increases are indexed off of what a district raised in the prior year, there is a built-in incentive for districts to raise and spend as much as allowed under revenue limits.
Second, categorical funding to MPS has increased dramatically since 2001. Categorical funds are program specific funds that exist outside of the state aid formula and hence are not capped by revenue limits. In 2001 MPS received $1,468 in categorical funding per-pupil, in 2012 it received $2,318 per-pupil (A 58% increase).
State and local categorical funding to MPS has gone up since 2001, but the bulk of the increase in per-pupil categorical funding is federal. Federal categorical funds per-pupil increased 73% since 2001. Included in this pot of federal money is title funding for low-income pupils, and funding for special needs pupils. The focal year of the study that spurred the Journal Sentinel article, 2010, also is important because of the impact of federal stimulus funding.

Comparing Milwaukee Public and Voucher Schools’ Per Student Spending

Note I am not trying to calculate per-pupil education funding or suggest that this is the amount of money that actually reaches a school or classroom; it is a simple global picture of how much public revenue exists per-pupil in MPS. Below are the relevant numbers for 2012, from MPS documents:
…….
Though not perfect, I think $13,063 (MPS) and $7,126 (MPCP) are reasonably comparative per-pupil public support numbers for MPS and the MPCP.

Spending more is easy if you can simply vote for tax increases, or spread spending growth across a large rate base, as a utility or healthcare provider might do. Over time, however, tax & spending growth becomes a substantial burden, one that changes economic decision making. I often point out per student spending differences in an effort to consider what drives these decisions. Austin, TX, a city often mentioned by Madison residents in a positive way spends 45% less per student.
Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman’s 2009 speech to the Madison Rotary Club:

“Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.” Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI’s vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the “impossibility” of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars (“Similar to GM”; “worry” about the children given this situation).

Finally, there’s this: Paul Geitner:

The Court of Justice had previously ruled that a person who gets sick before going on vacation is entitled to reschedule the vacation, and on Thursday it said that right extended into the vacation itself.




More Election Tea Leaves: UW-Madison Ed School Dean on K-12 Tax & Spending: Defunding and privatization threaten public schools



UW-Madison Ed School Dean Julie Underwood:

Public education currently stands under twin towers of threat — de-funding and privatization. This is consistent with a conservative agenda to eliminate many public programs — including public education.
In Wisconsin, school districts have been under strict limits on their revenues and spending since 1993. These limits have not kept pace with the natural increases in the costs of everyday things like supplies, energy and fuel. So every year, local school board members and administrators have had to cut their budgets to comply with spending limits. Throughout these years, school boards and administrators have done an admirable job of managing these annual cuts, but taken together, reductions in programs and staff have had a significant and very negative impact on our schools and the education they can provide to children.
Unfortunately this year, these same districts have received the largest single budget cut in Wisconsin history. For example, high poverty aid was cut by 10 percent during a time when poverty in children has increased in Wisconsin. As a result, schools are cutting programs and staff. According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction data, the cuts in 2012 are greater than the two previous years combined. These cuts will be compounded when next year’s cuts come due.

Related:




Commentary & Rhetoric on the Most Recent Milwaukee School Choice Report: Voucher schools made higher gains in reading



Longitudinal study will not end the debate over education in Milwaukee. More work is still needed to improve education for disadvantaged kids.
A multiyear study tracking students in both Milwaukee’s private voucher schools and Milwaukee Public Schools found that the voucher schools were exceeding the public schools in several key areas. The report’s findings may be significant, especially on reading, but there are still questions, and the bottom line is that improvement and strong accountability are still required for all schools in Milwaukee.
The final installment of an examination of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program shows that voucher schools made significantly higher gains in reading in 2010-’11 than those of a matched sample of peers in MPS. And there also were indications that kids in the choice schools finish high school and go on to college at higher rates than do those in MPS.
The results of the five-year study by Patrick J. Wolf, the study’s lead author and a professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas, have been challenged (see op-eds on the cover of Crossroads and “Another View” below), so the waters certainly are far from crystal clear.

Study’s results are flawed and inconsequential by Alex Molnar and Kevin Welner:

To the evaluators of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, vouchers are like a vaccine. Once students are “exposed” to the voucher program – even if they subsequently leave – that “exposure” somehow accounts for any good things that happen later on.
And leave they did – a whopping 75% of them.
Here are the details: The evaluators began by following 801 ninth-grade voucher recipients. By 12th grade, only about 200 of these students were still using vouchers to attend private school. Three of every four students had left the program.
Given this attrition, the researchers had to estimate graduation rates (as well as college attendance rates and persistence in college) by comparing Milwaukee Public Schools students to students who had been “exposed” to the voucher program – even though most of those students appear to have actually graduated from an MPS school.

Milwaukee’s voucher schools: an assessment by Patrick J. Wolf and John F. Witte

In 2006, the State of Wisconsin passed a law mandating that the School Choice Demonstration Project evaluate the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, the nation’s first private school choice program. The law required that we track a representative sample of choice students for five years and compare their results with similar students in Milwaukee Public Schools.
We did so using an innovative and reliable student matching system in 2006 to create a panel of 2,727 voucher students in grades three through nine and a comparison panel of 2,727 MPS students in similar grades, neighborhoods and with similar initial test scores.
We carefully tracked both groups of students and measured student outcomes from 2007 to 2011. The key outcomes were “attainment,” graduating from high school and enrolling and persisting in college; and “achievement,” measured by growth estimates on state of Wisconsin standardized tests. On Monday, in Milwaukee, we released the final reports from that evaluation.
Our most important finding was that choice students outperformed public school students in educational attainment. We call our attainment results the most important in our study because attainment is a crucial educational outcome. Students who graduate from high school live longer, earn more money during their lifetime and are less likely ever to be divorced, unemployed or incarcerated than students who do not graduate.

Milwaukee’s voucher schools: an assessment – Just a fig leaf for abandoning public schools by Bob Peterson

Good intentions are important, but they don’t ensure reliable information.
The latest privately funded report on academic achievement in the voucher schools, despite good intentions, is ultimately both unreliable and irrelevant.
The report, the final in a five-year longitudinal study, is unreliable for several reasons. First, while it touts findings such as increased high school graduation rates, it buries the fact that most ninth-graders left the voucher schools by their senior year.
Second, the figures on special education numbers are inflated and do not hold up to scrutiny. The only solid data at this point is based on the special-ed participation rate in the state’s standardized tests.
Last year, when for the first time the private voucher schools were required to give the state test, only 1.6% of voucher students were identified as students with special needs. The report can make whatever claims it wants, but that doesn’t mean its claims are legally or educationally legitimate.

Milwaukee’s voucher schools: an assessment – Focus on high-performing schools by Jim Bender

Students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program are more likely to graduate from high school, get into college and stay in college than students in Milwaukee Public Schools. This is just one of the findings from the nation’s leading scholarly experts on school choice, the School Choice Demonstration Project, in the release of its final reports last week on programs in Milwaukee.
The project used rigorous methods to compare students in the choice program with MPS students.
The comparisons show that the choice program as a whole has higher graduation rates and superior growth in reading scores than MPS. While this is good news for choice students, we need to expand those gains across all sectors of the Milwaukee education market.
One step in that direction is being prepared by a coalition of traditional public, charter and private schools to create a common accountability report card for Milwaukee schools. The effort is led by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and others. School Choice Wisconsin and the Choice Schools Association have both been involved in its creation, and it will cover all sectors – traditional public, charter and choice.
The complexities of equitably comparing a wide variety of schools are challenging. Once finalized, the comparative information on schools in the report card will empower parents and community leaders to make better education decisions.

Significantly lower per student spending (voucher vs. traditional public schools) is a material factor in these discussions.




One Education Spending & Reform



New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

Renewing his call for passage of a vouchers pilot program, the Opportunity Scholarship Act, the governor drilled into his education reform proposals for government cost-savings.
“Let’s face it: more money does not necessarily lead to a better education,” Christie said. “Today, in Newark, we spend $23,000 per student for instruction and services. But only 23% of ninth graders who enter high school this year will receive high school diplomas in four years. Asbury Park is similar: per pupil costs, at almost $30,000 a year, are nearly 75% above the state average. But the dropout rate is almost 10 times the state average. And math S.A.T. scores lag the state average by 180 points.
“It is time to admit that the Supreme Court’s grand experiment with New Jersey children is a failure,” the Governor added. “63% of state aid over the years has gone to the Abbott Districts and the schools are still predominantly failing. What we’ve been doing isn’t working for children in failing districts, it is unfair to the other 557 school districts and to our state’s taxpayers, who spend more per pupil than almost any state in America.”




Julie Underwood: Starving Public Schools; a look at School Spending



UW-Madison School of Education Dean Julie Underwood, via a kind reader’s email:

Public schools,” ALEC wrote in its 1985 Education Source Book, “meet all of the needs of all of the people without pleasing anyone.” A better system, the organization argued, would “foster educational freedom and quality” through various forms of privatization: vouchers, tax incentives for sending children to private schools and unregulated private charter schools. Today ALEC calls this “choice”– and vouchers “scholarships”–but it amounts to an ideological mission to defund and redesign public schools.
The first large-scale voucher program, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, was enacted in 1990 following the rubric ALEC provided in 1985. It was championed by then-Governor Tommy Thompson, an early ALEC member, who once said he “loved” ALEC meetings, “because I always found new ideas, and then I’d take them back to Wisconsin, disguise them a little bit, and declare [they were] mine.”
ALEC’s most ambitious and strategic push toward privatizing education came in 2007, through a publication called School Choice and State Constitutions, which proposed a list of programs tailored to each state.

Related:




Wisconsin Voucher debate reveals deep divisions about public schools



Susan Troller:

As of early afternoon Wednesday the fate of voucher schools in Green Bay is uncertain. Rumors are flying that the proposal to use tax dollars to pay families to send their children to private and religious schools in that city will be pulled from the state budget.
It’s been a hot topic.
The voucher story I posted on Chalkboard last week detailed Green Bay Supt. Greg Maass’ unhappy reaction to both the proposal and the abrupt legislative process that put it in the budget. It definitely struck a nerve, and drew many comments.
Some of the most interesting reactions went well beyond the issue of vouchers and whether public money should be used to fund private schools. They expressed the heart of the debate surrounding public schools, or “government” schools as some folks call them.
Are public schools failing? Who’s to blame? What responsibilities does a civil society owe to children who are not our own? What kind of reforms do parents, and taxpayers, want to see?
Here are some excerpts that are revealing of the divide in the debate:

VHOU812 wrote: …As a consumer of the public (or private) educational institutions, I am demanding more value. If it is not provided, I will push to refuse to purchase and home school. This is not what I want. I want security knowing that I am satisfied with the investment in my children’s education. I don’t get that feeling right now from publc schools, and that is the core of the problem that public schools need to fix. I also see that private institutions, by their nature, can make changes to respond to consumer demands very quickly, and it is clear public schools either can’t, or won’t.

I’m glad Susan posted these comments. Looking at the significant growth in Wisconsin K-12 spending over the past few decades along with declining performance, particularly in reading compels us all: parents, taxpayers, students, teachers, administrators and the ed school community, to think different.
Wolfram’s words are well worth considering: “You have to ask, what’s the point of universities today?” he wonders. “Technology has usurped many of their previous roles, such as access to knowledge, and the social aspects.




Voucher schools to expand amid questions about their performance



Susan Troller:

If Gov. Scott Walker’s budget is passed with recommendations approved Thursday by the Joint Committee on Finance, there will be more students in more voucher schools in more Wisconsin communities.
But critics of school voucher programs are hoping legislators will look long and hard at actual student achievement benefits before they vote to use tax dollars to send students to private schools. They also suggest that studies that have touted benefits of voucher programs should be viewed with a careful eye, and that claims that graduation rates for voucher schools exceed 90 percent are not just overly optimistic, but misleading.
“The policy decisions we are making today should not be guided by false statistics being propagated by people with a financial interest in the continuation and expansion of vouchers nationwide,” wrote state Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, D-Middleton, in a news release Friday.
Pope-Roberts is particularly critical of statistics that school choice lobbyists and pro-voucher legislators are using that claim that 94 percent of school voucher students graduated from high school in four years.
It’s good news, she says, but it tells a very selective story about a relatively small subset of students who were studied. That graduation rate reflects only the graduation rate for students who actually remained in the voucher program for all four years: Just 318 of the 801 students who began the program stayed with it.

Related:

Per student spending differences between voucher and traditional public schools is material, particularly during tight economic times.




Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Evers calls voucher expansion ‘morally wrong’ in memo to legislators; Tony Evers Needs a Reality Check on School Choice



Karen Herzog:

State Superintendent Tony Evers [SIS link] in a memo Monday urged the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee to restore funding for public schools and work collaboratively to improve the quality of all Milwaukee schools before considering any voucher expansion.
“To spend hundreds of millions to expand a 20-year-old program that has not improved overall student achievement, while defunding public education, is morally wrong,” Evers said in the memo.
Gov. Scott Walker has proposed eliminating the income limits on participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, eliminating the enrollment cap and has proposed opening up private schools throughout Milwaukee County to accept vouchers from Milwaukee students. Walker has spoken of expanding the voucher program to other urban areas in the state, such as Racine, Green Bay and Beloit.
The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program was created to improve academic performance among low-income students who had limited access to high-performing schools. Low-income students use taxpayer money to attend private schools, including religious schools. Each voucher is worth $6,442. The program now is limited to 22,500 students; 20,189 are in the program this year.
However, after 20 years and spending over $1 billion, academic performance data and the enrollment history of the school choice program point to several “concerning trends,” Evers said in his analysis of voucher student enrollment, achievement, and projected cost for long-term expansion.
Low-income students in Milwaukee Public Schools have higher academic achievement, particularly in math, than their counterparts in choice schools. Evers cited this year’s Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts exams and the legislatively mandated University of Arkansas study, which showed significant numbers of choice students performing below average on reading and math.

Aaron Rodriguez:

At a press conference in Racine, DPI Superintendent Tony Evers gave his harshest criticism of school vouchers yet. Well beyond the typical quibbles over test scores and graduation rates, Evers claimed that school vouchers were de facto “morally wrong.” It’s not every day that a State Superintendent of education accuses an education-reform program of being immoral. In doing so, Tony Evers may have bitten off more than he could chew.
Calling a school voucher program morally wrong inculpates more than just the program, it inculpates parents, teachers, organizations, lawmakers, and a majority of Americans that endorse it. In fact, one could reasonably argue that Evers’ statement makes himself morally culpable since Milwaukee’s voucher program operates out of the Department of Public Instruction of which he is the head. What does it say about the character of a man that knowingly administers an immoral program out of his own department?
In short, Evers’ argument goes something like this: voucher programs drain public schools of their financial resources; drained resources hurt children academically; hurting children academically is morally wrong; ergo, voucher programs are morally wrong.




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.




Milwaukee Voucher School WKCE Headlines: “Students in Milwaukee voucher program didn’t perform better in state tests”, “Test results show choice schools perform worse than public schools”, “Choice schools not outperforming MPS”; Spend 50% Less Per Student



Erin Richards and Amy Hetzner

Latest tests show voucher scores about same or worse in math and reading.
Students in Milwaukee’s school choice program performed worse than or about the same as students in Milwaukee Public Schools in math and reading on the latest statewide test, according to results released Tuesday that provided the first apples-to-apples achievement comparison between public and individual voucher schools.
The scores released by the state Department of Public Instruction cast a shadow on the overall quality of the 21-year-old Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, which was intended to improve results for poor city children in failing public schools by allowing them to attend higher-performing private schools with publicly funded vouchers. The scores also raise concerns about Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to roll back the mandate that voucher schools participate in the current state test.
Voucher-school advocates counter that legislation that required administration of the state test should have been applied only once the new version of the test that’s in the works was rolled out. They also say that the latest test scores are an incomplete measure of voucher-school performance because they don’t show the progress those schools are making with a difficult population of students over time.
Statewide, results from the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam show that scores didn’t vary much from last year. The percentage of students who scored proficient or better was higher in reading, science and social studies but lower in mathematics and language arts from the year before.

Susan Troller:

Great. Now Milwaukee has TWO failing taxpayer-financed school systems when it comes to educating low income kids (and that’s 89 per cent of the total population of Milwaukee Public Schools).
Statewide test results released Tuesday by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction include for the first time performance data from the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, which involves about 110 schools serving around 10,000 students. There’s a total population of around 80,000 students in Milwaukee’s school district.
The numbers for the voucher schools don’t look good. But the numbers for the conventional public schools in Milwaukee are very poor, as well.
In a bit of good news, around the rest of the state student test scores in every demographic group have improved over the last six years, and the achievment gap is narrowing.
But the picture in Milwaukee remains bleak.

Matthew DeFour:

The test results show the percentage of students participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program who scored proficient or advanced was 34.4 percent for math and 55.2 percent for reading.
Among Milwaukee Public Schools students, it was 47.8 percent in math and 59 percent in reading. Among Milwaukee Public Schools students coming from families making 185 percent of the federal poverty level — a slightly better comparison because voucher students come from families making no more than 175 percent — it was 43.9 percent in math and 55.3 percent in reading.
Statewide, the figures were 77.2 percent in math and 83 percent in reading. Among all low-income students in the state, it was 63.2 percent in math and 71.7 percent in reading.
Democrats said the results are evidence that the voucher program is not working. Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, D-Middleton, the top Democrat on the Assembly Education Committee, said voucher students, parents and taxpayers are being “bamboozled.”
“The fact that we’ve spent well over $1 billion on a failed experiment leads me to believe we have no business spending $22 million to expand it with these kinds of results,” Pope-Roberts said. “It’s irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars and a disservice to Milwaukee students.”
Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, who is developing a proposal to expand the voucher program to other cities, took a more optimistic view of the results.
“Obviously opponents see the glass half-empty,” Vos said. “I see the glass half-full. Children in the school choice program do the same as the children in public school but at half the cost.”

Only DeFour’s article noted that voucher schools spend roughly half the amount per student compared to traditional public schools. Per student spending was discussed extensively during last evening’s planning grant approval (The vote was 6-1 with Marj Passman voting No while Maya Cole, James Howard, Ed Hughes, Lucy Mathiak, Beth Moss and Arlene Silveira voted yes) for the Urban League’s proposed Charter IB School: The Madison Preparatory Academy.
The Wisconsin Knowledge & Concepts Examination (WKCE) has long been criticized for its lack of rigor. Wisconsin DPI WKCE data.
Yin and Yang: Jay Bullock and Christian D’Andrea.
Related: “Schools should not rely on only WKCE data to gauge progress of individual students or to determine effectiveness of programs or curriculum”.




Washington, DC: $28,000 per student, gives Voucher Students $7,500



John Stossel:

On my show last night — which re-runs at 10pm tonight on FBN — I said that Washington DC gives voucher schools $7,500 per student, but DC’s public schools cost twice that much: $15,000.
The $15,000 number has been cited by congressmen and newspapers like the WSJ and the Denver Post. It comes from the the National Center for Education Statistics, and the Census.
Unfortunately, it’s also wrong. Or at least very misleading, since it ignores major sources of spending. As CATO Education scholar Andrew Coulson explains:

DC also has a “state” level bureaucracy that spends nearly $200 million annually on k-12 programs, and the city spends another $275 million or so on school construction, school facilities modernization, and other so-called “capital” projects.

But those aren’t included in the regular spending figures.

Related: Education: Too Important for a Government Monopoly. Joanne has more as does Mark Perry.
Locally, the Madison School District has 24,295 students and a 2009/2010 budget of $418,415,780. $17,222 per student. The DC budget morass illustrates the necessity of K-12 budget clarity in all cases, including Madison.




A Look at Public & Private School Per Student Spending in the Washington, DC Area



Michael Birnbaum:

Private schools without religious affiliation spend almost twice as much per student as their public and Catholic counterparts and more than double that of other Christian schools nationwide, according to a new study.
In the Washington area, there are about 330 private schools with enrollments above 50 students, according to Education Department data. Two-thirds have some religious affiliation, and a quarter are members of non-Catholic Christian school associations. Although it is not surprising that some private schools spend more per student than public and faith-based schools, just how much more has not previously been documented.
“There are a lot of urban legends that drive the policy discussions,” said Bruce D. Baker, a professor at Rutgers University and the author of the study. He said that private schools tend to be costlier than the commonly accepted figures in policy debates, especially conversations about school vouchers.
The secular private schools analyzed in the study spent $20,100 on each student in the 2007-08 school year vs. $10,100 in public schools. Nonparochial Catholic schools tended to spend roughly the same as public schools. (Parochial schools were not included in the study because their tax data are not publicly available and because their finances are so tied to those of the Catholic Church.) Members of two of the largest associations of Christian schools spent $7,100 — several thousand dollars less per student than their public peers.




More on DC Vouchers: “Will Obama Stand Up for These Kids?”



William McGurn:

Dick Durbin has a nasty surprise for two of Sasha and Malia Obama’s new schoolmates. And it puts the president in an awkward position.
The children are Sarah and James Parker. Like the Obama girls, Sarah and James attend the Sidwell Friends School in our nation’s capital. Unlike the Obama girls, they could not afford the school without the $7,500 voucher they receive from the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. Unfortunately, a spending bill the Senate takes up this week includes a poison pill that would kill this program — and with it perhaps the Parker children’s hopes for a Sidwell diploma.
Sarah and James Parker attend Sidwell Friends School with the president’s daughters, thanks to a voucher program Sen. Dick Durbin wants to end.
Known as the “Durbin language” after the Illinois Democrat who came up with it last year, the provision mandates that the scholarship program ends after the next school year unless Congress reauthorizes it and the District of Columbia approves. The beauty of this language is that it allows opponents to kill the program simply by doing nothing. Just the sort of sneaky maneuver that’s so handy when you don’t want inner-city moms and dads to catch on that you are cutting one of their lifelines.
Deborah Parker says such a move would be devastating for her kids. “I once took Sarah to Roosevelt High School to see its metal detectors and security guards,” she says. “I wanted to scare her into appreciation for what she has at Sidwell.” It’s not just safety, either. According to the latest test scores, fewer than half of Roosevelt’s students are proficient in reading or math.
That’s the reality that the Parkers and 1,700 other low-income students face if Sen. Durbin and his allies get their way. And it points to perhaps the most odious of double standards in American life today: the way some of our loudest champions of public education vote to keep other people’s children — mostly inner-city blacks and Latinos — trapped in schools where they’d never let their own kids set foot.




Killing DC Vouchers



Wall Street Journal:

President Obama made education a big part of his speech Tuesday night, complete with a stirring call for reform. So we’ll be curious to see how he handles the dismaying attempt by Democrats in Congress to crush education choice for 1,700 poor kids in the District of Columbia.
The omnibus spending bill now moving through the House includes language designed to kill the Opportunity Scholarship Program offering vouchers for poor students to opt out of rotten public schools. The legislation says no federal funds can be used on the program beyond 2010 unless Congress and the D.C. City Council reauthorize it. Given that Democrats control both bodies — and that their union backers hate school choice — this amounts to a death sentence.
Republicans passed the program in 2004, with help from Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, and it has been extremely popular. Families receive up to $7,500 a year to attend the school of their choice. That’s a real bargain, given that D.C. public schools spend $14,400 per pupil on average, among the most in the country.
To qualify, a student’s household income must be at or below 185% of the poverty level. Some 99% of the participants are minority, and the average annual income is $23,000 for a family of four. A 2008 Department of Education evaluation found that participants had higher reading scores than their peers who didn’t receive a scholarship, and there are four applicants for each voucher.




Obama Questioned on Vouchers
MANY MINORITY PARENTS ARE AT ODDS WITH THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE ON THE ISSUE OF SCHOOL CHOICE.



Kelly Petty:

Minority voters have long favored the Democratic Party’s push for increased federal funding for public schools. But over the past few years, some of these voters have embraced the conservative-backed idea of private-school vouchers for low-income students.
Pro-voucher voters among racial minorities overwhelmingly support Barack Obama, but they are baffled by the Democratic nominee’s opposition to vouchers. They also say they are frustrated that Democratic leaders appear to be more concerned about keeping the peace with teachers unions — which adamantly oppose vouchers — than about finding alternatives that could advance desperately needed education reforms for minority students.
Obama’s “change” message has attracted millions of minorities, particularly African-Americans. Yet he cannot afford to lose minorities who are demanding greater school choice for their children.
In February, Obama seemed open to the idea of private-school vouchers. In an editorial board meeting with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, he was asked about his opposition to Wisconsin’s voucher program. If he saw more proof that vouchers are successful, Obama said, he would “not allow my predispositions to stand in the way of making sure that our kids can learn…. You do what works for the kids.”
But at the American Federation of Teachers convention this year, Obama repeated his attack against spending government money to help low-income students attend private schools. He criticized John McCain’s school-choice reform as “using public money for private-school vouchers,” and he called instead for overhauling public schools.




New Jersey has become the new front in the fight for school vouchers



The Economist:

Now some supporters of school vouchers, frustrated with state legislators, are testing a new tactic: going to court. Last July a group of parents in New Jersey filed a lawsuit against the state and 25 poorly performing districts. In Crawford v Davy they are arguing that since public schools deny students their constitutional right to a proper education, the court should refund their money so they can spend it at any school they choose. This is not the first attempt to use courts to permit the use of vouchers: similar efforts failed in Illinois and California, for example. But in New Jersey, such a suit might actually succeed. New Jersey’s courts have no qualms about meddling in education—they have been doing so for decades.
In 1973 the New Jersey Supreme Court said the government was failing to provide poor children with the “thorough and efficient” education guaranteed by the state constitution, and that the school-funding formula must change. Since a 1985 case, Abbott v Burke, the court has issued rulings laying out its remedy in detail: the state must send more money to poor school-districts, so that their budgets match those of the state’s highest-spending areas.




Friedman on Public School Centralization and Vouchers



Bob Sipchen:

“The schooling system was in much better shape 50 years ago than it is now,” says Friedman, his voice as confident as reinforced concrete.
A big fan of freedom, Friedman objects to public schools on principle, arguing — as he says most classic liberals once did — that government involvement by nature decreases individual liberty. But it’s the decline of schooling at the practical level, especially for the poor, that seems to exasperate him.
Friedman puts much of the blame on centralization.
“When I went to elementary school, a long, long time ago in the 1920s, there were about 150,000 school districts in the United States,” he says. “Today there are fewer than 15,000, and the population is more than twice as large.”
“It’s very clear that the people who suffer most in our present system are people in the slums — blacks, Hispanics, the poor, the underclass.”
When I ask him about the “achievement gap” separating low-scoring black and Latino students from better-scoring whites and Asians, he blames my “friends in the union.”
“They are running a system that maximizes the gap in performance. . . Tell me, where is the gap between the poor and rich wider than it is in schooling? A more sensible education system, one that is based on the market, would stave off the division of this country into haves and have-nots; it would make for a more egalitarian society because you’d have more equal opportunities for education.
Jonathan Kozol, author of “Savage Inequalities” and other books of education journalism, has noted that the parents who whine that “throwing money at education” doesn’t solve the problem are usually those spending $15,000 or $30,000 a year to send their kids to private schools. I ask Friedman about the obvious implications of that.
“In the last 10 years, the amount spent per child on schooling has more than doubled after allowing for inflation. There’s been absolutely no improvement as far as I can see in the quality of education. . . . The system you have is like a sponge. It will absorb the extra money. Because the incentives are wrong.

Additional LAT comments on this article.




More on Milwaukee Vouchers & TABOR



John Fund:

The irony is that public educators in Milwaukee believe choice has helped improve all the city’s schools. “No longer is MPS a monopoly,” says Milwaukee Public Schools superintendent William Andrekopoulos. “That competitive nature has raised the bar for educators in Milwaukee to provide a good product or they know that parents will walk.” The city’s public schools have made dramatic changes that educators elsewhere can only dream of. Public schools now share many buildings with their private counterparts, which helps alleviate the shortage of classrooms. Teachers, once assigned strictly by seniority, are now often hired by school selection committees. And 95% of district operating funds now go directly to schools, instead of being parceled out by a central office. That puts power in the hands of teachers who work directly with students.

Milwaukee schools are still struggling, but progress is obvious. Students have improved their performance on 13 out of 15 standardized tests. The annual dropout rate has fallen to 10% from 16% since the choice program started. Far from draining resources from public schools, spending has gone up in real terms by 27% since choice began as taxpayers and legislators encouraged by better results pony up more money.

Rich Eggleston says that TABOR would subvert Democracy:

In Wisconsin, the ‘Taxpayers Bill of Rights’ is being billed as a tool of democracy, but it’s actually a tool to subvert the representative democracy that to reasonable people has worked pretty well. When Milwaukee-area resident Orville Seymeyer e-mailed me and suggested I “get on the TABOR bandwagon,” this is what I told him:

via wisopinion




“the same teacher could earn up to $68,000 in Appleton, and only between $39,000 and $43,000 in Oshkosh”



Alex Tabarrok:

In my 2011 book, Launching the Innovation Renaissance, I wrote:

At times, teacher pay in the United States seems more like something from Soviet-era Russia than 21st-century America. Wages for teachers are
low, egalitarian and not based on performance. We pay physical education teachers about the same as math teachers despite the fact that math teachers
have greater opportunities elsewhere in the economy. As a result, we have lots of excellent physical education teachers but not nearly enough excellent
math teachers. The teachers unions oppose even the most modest proposals to add measures of teacher quality to selection and pay decisions.

As I wrote, however, Wisconsin passed Act 10, a bill that discontinued collective bargaining over teachers’ salary schedules. Act 10 took power away from the labor unions and gave districts full autonomy to negotiate salaries with individual teachers. In a paper that just won the Best Paper published in AEJ: Policy in the last three years, Barbara Biasi studies the effect of Act 10 on salaries, effort and student achievement.

Compensation of most US public school teachers is rigid and solely based on seniority. This paper studies the effects of a reform that gave school districts in Wisconsin full autonomy to redesign teacher pay schemes. Following the reform some districts switched to flexible compensation. Using the expiration of preexisting collective bargaining agreements as a source of exogenous variation in the timing of changes in pay, I show that the introduction of flexible pay raised salaries of high-quality teachers, increased teacher quality (due to the arrival of high-quality teachers from other districts and increased effort), and improved student achievement.

We still have a long way to go but COVID, homeschooling and open-access voucher programs have put a huge dent in the power of the teacher’s unions. There is now a chance to bring teacher pay into the American model. Moreover, such a model is pro-teacher! Not every district in Wisconsin grasped the opportunity to reform teacher pay but those districts that did raised pay considerably. Appleton district, for example, instituted pay for performance, Oshkosh did not. Prior to the Act salaries were about the same in the two districts:

After the expiration of the CBAs, the same teacher could earn up to $68,000 in Appleton, and only between $39,000 and $43,000 in Oshkosh.

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Wisconsin’s Act 10, Flexible Pay, and the Impact on Teacher Labor Markets: Student test scores rise in flexible-pay districts. So does a gender gap for teacher compensation.

If not to teacher salaries, where is this money going?

More on Act 10 and the related Milwaukee pension scandal.

——-

More. “Important insights into the impact of flexibility in teacher pay schemes on student outcomes.”

——

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




An update on Wisconsin’s attempts to improve our long term, disastrous reading results



Alan Borsuk:

The approach is best known for emphasizing phonics-based instruction, which teaches children the sounds of letters and how to put the sounds together into words. But when done right, it involves more than that — incorporating things such as developing vocabulary, comprehension skills and general knowledge.

More:What is phonics? Here’s a guide to reading terms parents should know

The approach differs from the “balanced literacy” approach widely used in recent decades, which generally downplayed sounding out letters. One well-known balanced literacy approach, called “three-cueing,” will be illegal in Wisconsin in all public schools, charter schools and private schools taking part in the state’s voucher program as of this fall.  

What curriculums will be recommended? 

Good question. The law created an Early Literacy Curriculum Council with nine members, generally educators from around the state, to make recommendations. The council had a big job and got behind schedule. But it recently recommended four curriculums, generally ones regarded favorably by prominent “science of reading” advocates.

The state Department of Public Instruction has been critical of aspects of the council’s work, including saying that council members didn’t stick strictly to the requirements of the new law. DPI took the council’s recommendations, deleted one, and added eight to come up with 11 curriculum choices that it said meet the law’s requirements.

Some literacy council members and other advocates have criticized the DPI list for including programs that are not as good as the ones the council recommended.  

Can you give examples?  

Sure. “Into Reading,” by HMH (also known as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), is a popular program. It is one of three programs now being used by schools in New York City, the largest district in the country. And Milwaukee Public Schools has been using “Into Reading” for a couple years. It is considered to meet “science of reading” standards, but some experts regard other curriculums as better.

The literacy council did not include “Into Reading” on its list. The DPI included it. For one thing, including it could lead to saving districts, including MPS, large sums of money by not putting them under pressure to get new textbooks and other materials.    

And then there is “Bookworms.” This curriculum has some distinctive aspects, and some advocates, such as well-known curriculum analyst Karen Vaites of New York, regard it highly and say schools using it have had good results. The literacy council included “Bookworms” on its list. DPI did not and said the program did not meet all the standards of the new law.  

——-

Politics and the taxpayer funded DPI.

Wisconsin DPI Reading Curriculum Evaluation list

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Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Notes on changes in Wisconsin taxpayer K-12 funding policies



WILL:

The Assembly is currently considering AB900—a bill that would “decouple” public school spending from spending on the voucher and independent charter school programs. While the concept likely sounds quite confusing, it’s actually relatively straightforward, and will benefit public schools, taxpayers, and choice schools as well. We’ll explain how below. 

PUBLIC SCHOOLS 

Currently, when a student leaves for the state’s school choice programs and some independent charters, state aid to school districts is reduced to make up for the cost to the state of that student.  This loss of state aid is allowed to be made up for with a revenue limit adjustment that raises property taxes in the district.  AB900 would change this.  School districts would no longer see their aid reduced for the cost of the voucher or charter students, leading to a property tax cut and access to more state aid. Instead, choice and charter schools would be funded by the state.  In addition, the bill includes a provision for school districts to recoup 25% of the revenue limit authority they used to receive for voucher students—leading to additional revenue per pupil for the vast majority of districts in the state.   

We have included an attachment that shows what the bill would result in for every district. This comes from a memo produced by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.  To help with understanding, consider the example from Green Bay reproduced below: 

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Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




An update on Wisconsin’s Literacy changes



Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

—-

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Commentary on k-12 choice



Josh Cowen:

First, why are these new voucher schemes such bad public policy? To understand the answer, it’s important to know that the typical voucher-accepting school is a far cry from the kind of elite private academy you might find in a coastal city or wealthy suburban outpost. Instead, they’re usually sub-prime providers, akin to predatory lenders in the mortgage sector. These schools are either pop-ups opening to cash in on the new taxpayer subsidy, or financially distressed existing schools desperate for a bailout to stay open. Both types of financially insecure schools often close anyway, creating turnover for children who were once enrolled.

And the voucher results reflect that educational vulnerability: in terms of academic impacts, vouchers have some of the worst results in the history of education research—on par or worse than what COVID-19 did to test scores. 

Those results are bad enough, but the real issue today is that they come at a cost of funding traditional public schools. As voucher systems expand, they cannibalize states’ ability to pay for their public education commitments. Arizona, which passed universal vouchers in 2022, is nearing a genuine budget crisis as a result of voucher over-spending. Six of the last seven states to pass vouchers have had to slow spending on public schools relative to investments made by non-voucher states.

That’s because most new voucher users were never in the public schools—they are new financial obligations for states. The vast majority of new voucher beneficiaries have been students who were already in private school beforehand. And for many rural students who live far from the nearest private school, vouchers are unrealistic in the first place, meaning that when states cut spending on public education, they weaken the only educational lifeline available to poorer and more remote communities in some places. That’s why even many GOP legislators representing rural districts—conservative in every other way—continue to fight against vouchers.




School Choice Commentary (achievement not found)



Bob Peterson

Establishing two school systems — one public and one private, yet both supported with tax dollars — only expands the ability of private schools to pick and choose the most desirable students

Supporters of Wisconsin’s voucher schools make it seem that the schools are just one of many variations of our public schoolsDon’t be fooled.

Voucher schools, often referred to as “choice” schools, are private schools that receive taxpayer money that pays for tuition. To argue that a private school is “public” merely because it receives public tax dollars is like arguing that Metro Mart is a public grocery store because it accepts food stamps.

Peterson was member of the Milwaukee School Board from 2019-2023, and board president for the final two years. He was also a classroom teacher for more 25 years, and president of the Milwaukee teachers’ union from 2011-2015.

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Lawfare and school choice



David Blaska:

Who is behind the lawsuit seeking to bring down Wisconsin’s school choice program that helps 52,000 low-income, often minority students, escape failing public schools? Guy named Kirk Bangstad. 

Killing school choice is written into the Democrat(ic) party platform. Obeisance to the teachers union and the one-size-fits-all government school monopoly is central to Woke progressivism. Easier to seize control. That is why the news media says little more than that Kirk Bangstad is a Minocqua WI-based contract micro-brewer of beers named after his heroes, like “A.O.C. IPA” and “Biden Beer.” Ran for political office as a Democrat. Unsuccessfully.

→ Of the top 10 schools in reading proficiency in Wisconsin that largely serve low-income children, six are voucher or charter schools, according to the Institute for Reforming Government. — Wall Street Journal

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Ongoing School Choice Rhetoric



Wayne Shockley:

Kirk Bangstad and Julie Underwood attempted to make a case against private school vouchers in their column on Wednesday, “Why we’re fighting against private school vouchers.” 

While they do make a couple of good points in their arguments, such as the need for greater accountability, most of their points are not valid. One of their points is particularly reprehensible. They attempt to smear all non-public schools with the history of “segregation academies” in the south after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education decision against segregated schools.

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Lawfare, school choice and the Wisconsin Supreme Court



Wall Street Journal:

Progressives tee up a case for the state Supreme Court’s new majority.

This should be an easy case, but the new 4-3 progressive majority on the Court is cause for worry. If the lawsuit is successful, it could end school choice in Wisconsin without a possibility of appeal because the case is based on state law claims. The result would mean upheaval for 29,000 children in Milwaukee’s voucher program, 4,000 in Racine and 19,000 in the rest of the state. Judges call that a “reliance” interest to consider carefully when considering a precedent.

The real power behind this case is the teachers union. Bob Baxter, executive director of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, says tests scores are a “fallacy” and that “every student that’s in a voucher school suffers.” Students who attend charters “are not learning the curriculum they need to learn in order to be a part of a democratic society,” Mr. Baxter adds. “We believe the right wing wants to crush participation in democracy.”

But the vouchers passed democratically. The real democratic issue here is whether four progressive Justices are going to trample their court’s precedent and the voters and impose their own policy preferences. That would rob poor children of better choices in favor of the unions who financed Justice Protasiewicz’s judicial campaign. Who’s anti-democratic?

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Notes on Lawfare, taxpayer k-12 $pending and the Minocqua Brewing Company



Quinton Qlabon

I feel like when Minocqua Brewing Company turns in homework, it should not have factual errors in it.

Anticlimactic.

Locally, Madison spends > $25k per student.

Corrine Hess:

Wisconsin’s choice program serves over 52,000 students and plays a vital role in Wisconsin’s education system,” Esenberg said in a statement. “Unfortunately, far-left interest groups are uniting behind a Super PAC, to take education options away from low- and middle-income kids and families across the state.”

State Superintendent Jill Underly released a statement, saying she welcomes any opportunity that would strengthen public education.  

“Education represents an incredible opportunity to learn, grow, and strengthen our state, but public education represents even more than that. Public education is a constitutional right,” Underly’s statement said. “Wisconsin needs to fulfill its responsibility to effectively, equitably, and robustly fund our public education system. I welcome any opportunity to move Wisconsin in that direction.” 

The lawsuit is being funded by the Minocqua Brewing Company’s SuperPAC, which Bangstad has used since 2021 to fund liberal political causes.

The group has purchased billboard ads attacking Republican politicians and marketed beers named after Democratic politicians including an Evers Ale for Gov. Tony Evers and Tammy Shandy for U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin.   

Bangstad first announced his efforts to end Wisconsin’s private school voucher system in August on social media.

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Curious, context free school choice commentary



Ruth Conniff:

Still, the inequities among public schools in richer and poorer property tax districts are nothing compared to the existential threat to public education from a parallel system of publicly funded private schools that has been nurtured and promoted by a national network of right-wing think tanks, well funded lobbyists and anti-government ideologues.

For decades, Wisconsin has been at the epicenter of the movement to privatize education, pushed by the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation, a mega-wealthy conservative foundation and early backer of Milwaukee’s first-in-the-nation school voucher program. That program has expanded from fewer than 350 students when it launched in 1990 to 52,000 Wisconsin students using school vouchers today.

This year school privatization advocates scored a huge victory when Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, a longtime ally of public schools, agreed to a budget bargain that includes a historic bump in the amount of tax money per pupil Wisconsinites spend on private school vouchers. The rate went up from $8,399 to $9,874 for K-8 students and from $9,405 to $12,368 for high schoolers.

Not only is the amount of money taxpayers spend on private education increasing, in just a couple of years all enrollment caps come off the school choice program. We are on our way to becoming an all-voucher system. 

This makes no sense, especially since, over the last 33 years, the school voucher experiment has failed to produce better outcomes in reading and math than regular public schools.

——-

Meanwhile, Madison taxpayers have long supported substantial, well above average $pending – now greater than $25k per student!

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Notes on funding school choice



Ameillia Wedward:

Janet Protasiewicz’ recent confirmation as a member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court earlier this month has conservatives worried about the possible end of a decade of conservative reforms, from Act 10 to voter ID laws. But another concern receiving less attention is the prospect of challenges to Wisconsin’s school choice programs.

School choice has stood against challenges in the past, but now that it’s at stake in state court, taxpayer dollars are on the line.

While there are several cases and laws that reaffirm Wisconsin’s choice programs from a religious angle — and Wisconsin’s own governor signed into law increases to choice earlier this summer — the current concern is that school choice will face scrutiny from a financial standpoint: Can the state fund both school choice and public schools simultaneously?

Currently, under the Wisconsin constitution, local funds must be used for local schools. Although the state finances the choice program, when a student leaves the public school system to participate, the state subtracts that pupil’s funding from their respective district, which then has to make up the revenue loss by increasing property taxes. In other words, to fund both systems, taxpayers end up paying twice: once to fund the school choice program and again to pay the district’s tax hikes.

Some have argued that this violates the state constitutional requirement that property taxes fund “common schools.” But concerns like this ignore a plausible funding mechanism that could appease school choice and public school advocates alike while sparing the taxpayer’s wallet. By decoupling private choice funding from property taxes and funding students instead, the state could reduce costs for local taxpayers. Under a decoupling plan, students that use school choice would be financed fully by the state, and all property tax implications would be removed.

This isn’t a new idea. By the 2024-25 school year, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program will be funded directly via the state. By the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty’s conservative estimations — before the new law and under the old voucher amount — if the state followed the same model, decoupling would cut property taxes over $168 million statewide.

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




K-12 Governance Climate: School Choice Rhetoric



“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?