07 Sep

New Study Shows Wisconsin School Funding System Broken; Opportunity Gaps Increasing Over Time

The Forward Institute is releasing an important new study on Monday, September 8, commissioned by the Association for Equity in Funding (AEF). The study, “Segregation of Opportunity: A Longitudinal Study of Wisconsin Education Funding” used 8 years of school finance and tax data to examine the statewide impact of the current funding formula on Wisconsin community schools.

The study provides strong evidence that the current school finance system is no longer fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide Wisconsin students an equal educational opportunity as defined in the State Supreme Court Vincent v. Voight decision in 2000. Further, the school funding mechanism is contributing to greater education opportunity gaps based on where a student lives, contrary to the core purpose of the school funding system.

The following statement can be attributed to study lead author Scott Wittkopf:

                “This study clearly demonstrates a systemic failure to ensure that the moral purpose of public education, as defined by the Court in Vincent v. Voight is being fulfilled:               

An equal opportunity for a sound basic education is one that will equip students for their roles as citizens and enable them to succeed economically and personally. 

The Court recognized the moral purpose of public education beyond “career” or “work readiness.” Public education is necessary for children to acquire skills and knowledge to pursue what is meaningful in life, and to have freedom to even know what is meaningful. It is clear that the school finance system is Wisconsin is no longer fulfilling its mission to provide the financial basis for equal educational opportunity as defined in the Vincent v. Voight decision to every child, regardless of district, need or demographic. In fact, it is contributing to a new type of segregation – that of income inequality. As inequitable funding remains a moral issue in Wisconsin, segregation will exacerbate due to systemic funding inequity. We call on a bipartisan effort to fix this broken system, and restore the moral promise to all of our children – the promise of educational opportunity for every child.”

The full study, raw data and macro workbooks with figures and tables for each Wisconsin public school district are available from our home page (look for the blue tab “2014 Wisconsin School Funding Study”) or at this link.

13 Mar

Forward Institute joins DPI in Jefferson County Education Forum

Forward Institute Board Members Scott Wittkopf and Julie Wells participated in an American Association of University Women (AAUW) discussion on the Walker Education Budget proposals on Monday, March 11 in Fort Atkinson. Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction policy advisor Jeff Pertl presented current budget information on school evaluations and proposed voucher expansion. Forward Institute contributed Report Card study findings and new information from the forthcoming poverty and education study.

A local news report was published in the Jefferson County Daily Union. Key quotes from the discussion:

Walker’s proposed 2013-15 budget allocates $64 million in education “performance funding” that would be divided among schools based on their report card score. Schools in the bottom two achievement categories would compete for $10 million of the funding, $24 million would go to schools in the top two categories, and the remaining $30 million would go to schools that improved their report card performance by at least one point.

Pertl voiced concern about the fact that the report cards were being used to make “high-stakes funding decisions.”

“We really didn’t design this instrument for making these types of decisions, so we (the Department of Public Instruction) are opposed, concerned about using this system for that purpose,” said Pertl.

“There’s a really high correlation between poverty and student performance,” said Pertl.

Pertl’s statement is consistent with FI’s Report card study, finding that nearly 50% of the difference in school report card scores can be explained by difference in level of poverty from school to school.

Wittkopf presented data from a Forward Institute study to be released later this month that he said shows that students in Milwaukee’s voucher schools had much lower rates of tenth-grade students reading at proficient or advanced levels than at Milwaukee public school. Milwaukee largely is characterized as being a failing school district.

“If you don’t have students reading at a proficient level by tenth grade, they can’t learn in time to graduate at a proficient level,” Wittkopf said, noting that voucher schools often tout higher graduation rates than public schools. “I think the question we’re raising is, ‘Are you creating a diploma mill?’

“What we would be advocating would be to not increase aid to the voucher schools,” said Wittkopf. “It costs about $7,200 to get a student to advanced or proficient in mathematics in the 10 poorest districts in the state. In the voucher schools, it’s about $14,000.”

The full Forward Institute poverty and education study is expected to be released in late March.

30 Nov

Forward Institute to release Wisconsin School Report Card Study

The Forward Institute and State Senator Kathleen Vinehout will hold a Press Conference on Wednesday, December 5th at 10:00 am, in the Senate Parlor at the Wisconsin State Capitol to release a new study on the Wisconsin School Report Cards.

The study analyzed all available Report Card score data for Wisconsin Schools, and the results will have a significant impact on the statewide Education Policy discussion for the coming Legislative Session.  Representatives from the Forward Institute will be on hand to brief the press and public on the study findings and answer questions.

The study addresses critical links between poverty and education in Wisconsin public and non-traditional charter schools.

While the public is invited to the Press Conference on December 5th, Forward Institute will post the full study with all supporting data and references on this website and our Facebook page early on Wednesday, December 5th – BEFORE the Press Conference at the Capitol.

To receive the report before it is released to the public, follow Forward Institute on this website, Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ForwardInstitute), or Twitter                        (@ForwardInstWI).

Link to Press Conference Invitation