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Education Policy

Policy Issues
Adequacy
WAES School Funding Briefs
Revenue Limits
Other School Finance and Education Areas

Policy Issues

Teacher retention studyWisconsin's Education Dilemma:
Finding, supporting and keeping good teachers in Milwaukee and rural school districts

Author: IWF
Date: November 2009

Finding and keeping good teachers is vital to all schools. In Milwaukee, where the racial achievement gap is so wide, it is especially critical as well as in rural areas where lower income students have few environmental resources outside of schools to bolster learning.  This report investigates the factors involved in retaining urban and rural teachers as well as maximizing their effectiveness in the classroom.

Interviews with teachers and school officials indicate that modest changes in educational systems could improve teacher retention and performance. Most significant reforms included systematic mentoring for new teachers and more realistic workloads. While these would require more school funding, the amount is not extravagant and the outcome could make the difference between success and failure in many schools.

» Full Report (PDF)


Adequacy

atlas coverWisconsin Atlas of School Finance: Geographic, Demographic, and Fiscal Factors Affecting School Districts Across the State

Author: Jack Norman, Ph.D. (IWF)
Date: February 2004

This report presents in-depth data on urban, suburban, and rural districts and how they compare in the population of students they serve, the economic factors they confront, and the tax and spending responsibilities they face in Wisconsin's current school-finance system. It also includes a special section on districts in the northern lake region of the state. (44 pp.)

Online Versions:

» Full Report (PDF, 3.58 MB)
» Summary (PDF, 1.65 MB)

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Related: Press Release


coverFunding Our Future: An Adequacy Model for Wisconsin School Finance

Author: Jack Norman, Ph.D. (IWF)
Date: June 2002

This report describes a new school finance system—one designed to link the needs of students to the state's academic standards to ensure that all children, regardless of their special needs or the location of their schools, have the opportunity to succeed. It serves as the basis to Funding Our Future: The Wisconsin Adequacy Plan (above). The full report includes a cost-out of the Adequacy model for each of Wisconsin's 426 school districts. (111 pp.)

Online Versions:

» Full Report (PDF)
» Summary (PDF)


iwfNational Forum on School Funding Adequacy: Review of Current Efforts and Participating Organizations

Author: Institute for Wisconsin's Future
Date: March 2000

IWF, in partnership with the National School Boards Association, coordinates a national school funding network. This publication profiles 30 organizations working towards the Adequacy method of funding schools across the country. It includes contact information and a description of each organization's efforts. (34 pp.)

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iwfDefining a Thorough Education Infrastructure: The Wisconsin Educator Survey on Necessary School Resource Standards

Authors: Thomas Moore, Ph.D. (IWF) & Public Policy Forum (conducted survey)

Date: October 1999

This report provides the groundwork for establishing adequate funding in Wisconsin's public schools. It presents an analysis of a comprehensive educator survey used to determine the resources—staff, materials, facilities—schools need to provide all students a quality education and an opportunity to meet state standards. (29 pp.)

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iwfUnequal and in Jeopardy

Producer: Institute for Wisconsin's Future

Date: 1998

This video offers a telling view of the many ways funding shortages negatively affect Wisconsin public schools. Through interviews with school administrators, parents, teachers, and students, two major problems plaguing schools are explored: Wisconsin schools are unequal due to differences in property wealth, and all Wisconsin schools are in jeopardy due to state revenue caps. (TRT: 14:12)

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WAES School Funding Briefs

IWF serves as the research and staffing partner of the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools (WAES), a diverse, statewide coalition whose goal is comprehensive school funding reform. WAES offers a series of double-sided, one-page school-funding reform briefs, which explain the Adequacy model of school-finance reform and how it affects our schools and children. Briefs can be used as handouts for community presentations and those who have minimal knowledge of school-finance.


logoSchool Funding Brief #3:
Adequacy Makes Sense for Wisconsin's School Funding System

Author: Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools

Date: Fall 2003

What is Adequacy and why does Wisconsin need it? This brief answers these questions and more. In an easy-to-read format, it provides an overview of the school-funding model and what it means for Wisconsin's children. (2 pp.)

Online Versions:

» Full Brief (HTML)
» Full Brief (PDF)

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logoSchool Funding Brief #2:
Early Childhood Education Meets the Needs of All Children

Author: Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools

Date: Fall 2003

Early childhood education is critical to future learning, yet in 60% of Wisconsin's school districts, it is inaccessible, underfunded, or unavailable. This brief shows why early childhood education is an essential resource of a quality education. (2 pp.)

Online Versions:

» Full Brief (HTML)
» Full Brief (PDF)

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logoSchool Funding Brief #1:
Federal "No Child Left Behind" Act Needs Adequate Funding to Succeed

Author: Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools

Date: Fall 2003

This brief demonstrates how the federal government's "No Child Left Behind Act" calls for all the things we want for our children, but falls far, far short of funding these new mandates—putting even more pressure on Wisconsin's failing school-finance system. (2 pp.)

Online Versions:

» Full Brief (HTML)
» Full Brief (PDF)

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Revenue Limits

coverAre School Revenue Limits Limiting Learning?

Authors: Institute for Wisconsin's Future, with help from Appleton PTA Council, Big 8 Summit on Spending Caps, Janesville Joint Legislative Committee, Price County Citizens Who CARE, Stevens Point Area PTA, Superior School District, West Allis/West Milwaukee PTA Council, Wisconsin Federation of Teachers, Wisconsin PTA
Date: January 2001

This report shows that all of Wisconsin's schools are seriously struggling due to the revenue limits law, which freezes school spending levels based on the 1992-1993 school year and allows for insufficient increases that don't keep pace with rising education costs. Drawing from statewide forums before the Senate Education Committee and the testimony of students, teachers, administrators, business professionals, and citizens, the report illustrates the alarming effects revenue limits have on schools. (66 pp.)

Online Versions:

» Full Report (PDF)
» Summary (PDF)

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Related: Press Release


iwfWisconsin's School Funding Crisis: A Threat to Our Children's Future

Producer: Institute for Wisconsin's Future
Date: March 2001

This video offers an inside look at the devastating effects revenue limits have on schools and what citizens can do about it. It features statewide forums, where hundreds of students, teachers, administrators, business professionals, and others testified before the Senate Education Committee. The video is a useful companion to the report, Are School Revenue Limits Limiting Learning? (above). (TRT: 10:00)

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racine coverA School District in Crisis: An Analysis of the Impact of Budget Cuts on Schools in the Racine School District

Author: Institute for Wisconsin's Future
Date: February 1999

This report outlines the significant cuts in Racine school programs resulting from a $4.8 million budget cut in 1998-99 made due to revenue limits and declining enrollment. (12 pp.)

Online Version:

» Full Report (PDF)

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iwfSchool District Survey Report: The Impact of Revenue Limits on Metro Milwaukee Area Schools Districts

Author: Institute for Wisconsin's Future
Date: December 1998

This survey of 25 school districts in the greater Milwaukee area shows that all districts, including more affluent suburban districts, are facing serious financial problems due to revenue limits. (6 pp.)

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rev cap coverAssessing the Impact of Fiscal Constraints and Revenue Caps on Wisconsin Public Schools

Authors: Stephen L. Percy, Donald P. Haider-Markel, Theodore W. McDonald, & Peter Maier (Center for Urban Initiatives and Research/University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
Date: February 1998

The findings of this study suggest that financial shortfalls in school budgets across the state are largely the result of spending caps, which pose a significant threat to the quality of education in Wisconsin’s public schools. (50 pp.)

Online Version:

» Summary (PDF)

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Related: Press Release

Other School Finance and Education Areas


Other School Finance and Education Areas

iwfDeath by a Thousand Cuts: How Wisconsin’s Revenue Limits Erode the Budgets of Public Schools

Author: Jack Norman, Ph.D. (IWF)
Date: November 2005

The typical district in Wisconsin has to deal with a built-in annual deficit of 1.7%, a gap that forces cuts in staffing, programs, maintenance, and/or purchasing, according to this survey of district superintendents by the Institute for Wisconsin's Future. (4 pp.)

» Full Report (PDF)

Related: Press Release


iwfMilwaukee Public Schools’ Funding Over the Last Decade Falls Behind Other Milwaukee County Districts

Authors: Michael Rosen (Economics Department/Milwaukee Area Technical College), with research assistance from Michael Grover (IWF)
Date: 1998

This study reveals that in real dollars, adjusted for inflation, per pupil spending rose for Milwaukee Public Schools by just $240, a 4.5 percent increase between 1987-88 and 1996-97. This is less than all other Milwaukee County school districts. (4 pp.)

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iwfTax Funding for Private School Alternatives: The Financial Impact on Milwaukee Public Schools and Taxpayers

Author: Thomas Moore, Ph.D. (IWF)
Date: October 1998

This report finds that the Milwaukee Public Schools lose over $22 million in state aid under the current funding system for voucher and charter school programs. (14 pp.)

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windfall coverWindfall for the Wealthy: The Impact of 1995 Property Tax Relief Legislation on Wisconsin Households

Author: Bambi L. Statz (College of Business and Economics/School Business Management Program/University of Wisconsin-Whitewater)
Date: January 1997

This study examines 1995 school finance and property tax relief legislation on a district-by-district basis. The author finds that there is minimal tax relief for taxpayers in moderate or property-poor school districts and increased inequality in the state school financing structure, which benefits residents of wealthy school districts. (47 pp.)

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unions coverAre Teachers’ Unions Hurting American Education? A State-by-State Analysis of the Impact of Collective Bargaining Among Teachers on Student Performance

Authors: F. Howard Nelson (Educational Research Consultant) & Michael Rosen (Economics Department/Milwaukee Area Technical College), with consulting assistance from Brian Powell (Department of Sociology/Indiana University)
Date: October 1996

This study demonstrates that collective bargaining is not responsible for poor student performance. In fact, in states with high levels of teacher unionization, student scores on standardized tests are higher than in states with low levels of teacher participation in collective bargaining or meet-and-confer activities. (24 pp.)

Online Version:

» Full Report (PDF)

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