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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The most important table in today's WASDA survey

by folkbum

I got the survey report last night (thanks, Anonymous Source!) and was told it was embargoed until after this morning's press conference. But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has gone ahead and made it available to everyone (pdf), as it accompanies their story this morning, so I'm hitting publish now instead of later.

It's a survey of school district administrators--and this is an annual thing, so don't think that this is something new propagated by anti-Walker forces--that shows hiring trends, program availability, class sizes, and so on.

The key part of the survey for me, though it's not mentioned in Tom Tolan's write-up, is that it does account for whether school districts were bound by contract extensions or instead had full access to the "tools" that Walker and Republicans claimed would help schools balance their budgets without cutting staff or programs. The survey's finding? "Differences between districts that had contracts compared to those without union contracts were not statistically significant." In table form (click to embiggen):

The report shows that in or out of contract, most districts cut positions and that, in fact, districts without contracts saw higher student-teacher ratios as well as a faster increase in the student-teacher ratios. In other words, the districts with the greatest flexibility to use Walker's "tools" were the districts with the largest and fastest-growing class sizes.

This graph also kills me:

That's the three-year trend for job losses in Wisconsin schools. Combined with predictions from districts that next year's cuts will be as deep or deeper, we're looking at 10,000 jobs lost in public education between 2009 and 2013. That's just devastating.

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