Evers’ School Funding Plan Expensive, Timid, Protects the Status Quo

Brett Healy, President of the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy, released the following statement in reaction to the “Fair Funding for our Future” school financing proposal:

“Superintendent Evers’ proposal is not rooted in reality.  State government in Wisconsin is facing a $3 billion dollar deficit heading into the 2011-2013 budget deliberations.  We are broke.  We do not have the money for program increases of any kind and Wisconsinites have been taxed beyond their limit already. Every state program is looking at a cut in the next budget, not an increase as Superintendent Evers has proposed. If the Evers’ Fair Funding proposal is the right thing to do, then Wisconsin should implement the formula changes without new tax dollars to help the politicians protect their precious districts.

“MacIver’s education reform analyst, Christian D’Andrea, has reviewed the proposal, and his findings are available at MacIverInstitute.com. We see that the Evers plan fails in two key areas. One, it falls much too quickly into the tired argument that poor academic performance is directly tied to a lack of resources. We’d argue that it is a lack of political will, not money, that prevents Wisconsin’s schools from achieving greater success. Two, it proposes a 900 million dollar tax hike on Wisconsin families during the worst economic recession in 70 years. The Department of Public Instruction would be wise to propose a more equitable school funding formula that distributes the existing total education dollars.

“It was only this past spring that Governor Doyle and the legislature believed that the answer for our struggling schools was to give the Superintendent new expanded powers to intervene.  After two politically humiliating defeats in President Obama’s Race To The Top competition, Governor Doyle and Superintendent Evers touted the DPI changes as a way to support struggling schools all over the state and turn them around.  Just a short nine months later, it seems that all we need now is a huge pile of cash to make all of our kids brilliant.

“The MacIver Institute has published a report suggesting Wisconsin should follow Florida’s approach to education reform, an effort that would not require a billion dollar tax hike. Let’s focus on proven education reforms like those tried in Florida, Blindly throwing more money at the current system may be the easy answer, but as any grade school student eventually finds out, the easy answer is not always the right answer. The cupboard is bare, taxpayers cannot afford to spend more, especially when there is no focus on improving the return on their investment.

“We do not see how a plan so out of touch with today’s fiscal reality and this committed to the status quo can serve as the catalyst for much needed education reform in Wisconsin.”

Here is the analysis from MacIver’s Education Policy Analyst, Christian D’Andrea.