A pitched battle is being waged in the US state of Wisconsin over collective agreements and the bloated remuneration arrangements (including pensions) of public sector unions. Teachers are in the front line.
There have been huge increases in spending on education in Wisconsin and other US states in recent decades. Yet spending more money has not translated into improved scores for Wisconsin’s children as this graph shows:
Click to enlarge
In 1998, according to the US Department of Education, Wisconsin public school eighth graders scored an average of 266 out of 500 on the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) reading test. In 2009, Wisconsin public school eighth graders once again scored an average of 266 out of 500 on the NAEP reading test. Meanwhile, Wisconsin public schools increased their per pupil expenditures from $4,956 per pupil in 1998 to $10,791 per pupil in 2008. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator, the $4,956 Wisconsin spent per pupil in 1998 dollars equalled $6,546 in 2008 dollars. That means that from 1998 to 2008, Wisconsin public schools increased their per pupil spending by $4,245 in real terms yet did not add a single point to the reading scores of their eighth graders and still could lift only one-third of their eighth graders to at least a “proficient” level in reading. The results for maths and science were similar.
This reflects national experience in the United States. It would be interesting to see a similar analysis for New Zealand.