"It's been a big change in a very short period of time, there's no question about it," says Dale Knapp, WISTAX research director. "In the late ‘90s to around a decade ago, Wisconsin's spending per pupil on schools was typically around 10 percent above the average nationally. In the last eight years, we've been moving more toward the middle."If you want average schools, then average funding will do.
Salaries for instructional staff (primarily teachers) ranked 21st nationally in 2009, or 1.5 percent below the national average. Wages for all school personnel ranked 29th in 2009, or 7.4 percent below average
We also find a report on the Madison Preparatory Charter School where some operational details have been revealed. The plan calls for a adding 20 days to the school year (200 vs. 180) by adding a summer semester during the month of July, lengthening the school day to 8 to 5 and mandatory sports and extra-curricular. Its a bold proposal and an excellent example of how the charter school model is best used: to provide a laboratory in which to develop innovative educational models. I won't speculate on the success of this model but the empiricist in me would like to see how will it works. The down side is of course cost. A significantly extended school day and year come at a significantly greater cost. However reducing the achievement gap and better preparing young people for success has significant value to society, and over the long run could have a significant return on investment.
Note to Sunny: Class size guidlines are set by the board, balancing costs vs. educational considerations and public support. They aren't in the teacher's contract. Never were. In fact, you might be surprised by the things that aren't in the contract!
Sunny's point that small class sizes aren't a panacea is accurate, but we have in hand a stark example of how class size can make a difference. The high school AP Calculus class, with 34 students, is 2.5 weeks behind the point in the curriculum that last year's smaller classes were.