This is something that has been obvious for some time, but it’s good to see an actual study on it.
This does not mean that government spending on education is compeltely meaningless. Instead, our findings indicate that indiscriminate spending on Wisconsin public schools may have reached a point of “diminishing returns,” i.e. additional dollars do not produce proportional benefits, holding everything else constant. In other words, a dollar spent in a developing country, such as India, is likely to produce far better student outcomes than in Wisconsin. Therefore, in order to improve student outcomes, something else will likely need to be tried.
School choice – attending public independent charter schools or using vouchers to attend private schools – may hold the key to reviatlizing the Wisconsin education system. Despite large funding disparities, charter and choice schools in Milwaukee have produced impressive results on shoe-string budgets. Well-respected studies, such as the SCDP and CREDO, have confirmed this.
But, can it work outstate? Our report explains why there is a potential marketplace for it. The number of children living in poverty in Wisconsin has been growing rapidly – excluding the cities. There are over 42,000 students outside of Milwaukee and Racine currently stuck in failing schools. On the supply side, 47% of all private schools in Wisconsin are located in towns and rural districts; in those areas, more than 55,000 children – nearly one out of every three children – live in poverty.