RUSD students still falling short on math and reading skills
The Public Policy Forum published their 14th Annual Comparative Analysis of RUSD. The full report can be found on Racine Taxpayers Association website. Following are the “Major Findings” in the report:
• RUSD has created a series of measureable grade-level goals to gauge its progress in achieving the district-wide vision. Of those goals, only in writing has the district surpassed its target for all students. There has been progress toward some of the other goals for some subgroups of students but, on the whole, large racial and socio-economic gaps in performance persist and entire grade levels are falling short in math and reading.
• The large and persistent achievement gaps are concerning because RUSD serves a lower income, less-educated population than most of its peers and the state as a whole. RUSD ranks first among peer districts in student poverty, as measured by free or reduced-price lunch eligibility. In addition, 54% of RUSD students belong to minority racial or ethnic groups, ranking RUSD first among the peer districts in terms of minority enrollment.
• Long-term trends in math and reading continue to cause concern, although the 72% of RUSD fourth graders proficient or advanced in reading in 2010-2011 is up slightly from 2009-10, as is the 76% of RUSD 8th graders proficient or advanced in reading. However, the 52% of 10th graders proficient or advanced reading is a slight decline over the previous year. Improvements in math scores were not seen in 2010-11 in 4th, 8th, or 10th grades.
• Some of the performance findings might be explained by the lower levels of student engagement in RUSD as compared to peer districts. In 2009-10, the attendance rate at RUSD was 93%, more than a full percentage below the state average. In addition, the habitual truancy rate increased for the third year in a row, and now stands at 15.5%. After a one-year decline in 2008-09, the trend for increased drop-outs from RUSD returned and now stands at 4.6%.
• Comparative performance findings are also explained by the district’s internal testing, which measures individual student performance growth. In no grade level did more than 54% of students meet their individual growth target in reading or math in 2010-11.
• The performance struggles manifest themselves in the high school completion rate, which declined slightly in 2009-2010, to 73%. The high school completion rate at RUSD has lagged behind the state average for the past five years.
• Finally, recent state legislative actions and the economic recession have major fiscal implications for the district, which is more dependent on state and federal aid than most of the peer districts. RUSD ranked below average among peer districts in per-pupil property tax revenue, ranking seventh. In 2010-11, RUSD ranked first among peer districts in per-pupil federal aid and second among peers in per-pupil state aid.
Superintendent “input sessions”
In November, the “new superintendent search committee” held two community input sessions attended, in total, by about 50 people.The lack of community interest and input seemingly gives the school board carte blanche authority to continue in their desire to hire another educational bureaucrat.
Members from Racine Taxpayers Association attended the first meeting and stated our position that an experienced and successful chief executive would be the best choice. RUSD’S future is declining enrollment, less state and federal aid, a reduction of employees and school closures. Maintaining and improving only the most productive teaching and learning techniques coupled with the financial resources available is a must.
Continuity and Accountability
Fortunately a few people did weigh in with financial experience and accountability being extremely important. However, the majority of comments were aimed at increasing programs and the need for experience only in educational organizations and programs.
One theme that had some agreement was “continuity.”Another new superintendent with new ideas and programs would be a detriment. A few people suggested that interim superintendent Dr. Ann Laing would be the best choice to continue the current path toward the North Star Vision with no disruption.
You can’t fix stupid
This comedy line aptly sums up the work of the congressional “super committee’s” results for budget deficit reductions. This committee was a smoke screen to cover raising the debt ceiling and it was obviously expected to fail from the start.
The problem is the federal government’s size, its reach, many of its policies, the power of the many special interests and the ego and arrogance of congress itself. Washington is simply too big, promising too much and is doing too many things it can’t do well, or shouldn’t do at all. You cannot fix government; you can only starve it and hope it starts to trim its own fat.
Duplication and Waste
This past March, the Government Accountability Office published a report on “duplication and waste”. It identified 47 job training programs, 56 financial literacy programs, 80 economic development programs, 18 food assistance programs, 20 programs for the homeless, 82 teacher-quality programs spread across 10 agencies, and more than 2,100 data centers. All told, we have nearly 2,200 federal programs. What human being could ever know or monitor them all? Who’s minding this mess?
Washington Soap Opera
The U.S. debt has just passed $15 trillion and it is projected to be over $21 trillion in ten years. The $1.2 trillion deficit reduction, that the super committee could not find, would only have reduced the deficit to $20 trillion. This year the interest on the debt will require 6.1% of total spending. In 10 years it will take 12.3% of total spending
By next spring the debt ceiling will be reached once again and we will be watching another episode of the Washington D.C. soap opera, “As the Congress Spends.”
99% and Occupy
Great slogans for T.V. sound bites that can be summed up with one word; More. Some groups of people want other groups of people to give them more money. This has been expressed in countless ways throughout the centuries as governments grow, tax revenues increase and people realize they can vote themselves money from the public treasury.
If there was any substance or real purpose for these groups, they wouldn’t be disrupting the lives of average citizens by occupying areas of business, recreation and streets traveled to get to work.The groups would be on the steps of congress and the white house who legislate every bailout and financial regulation. They would also be on college campuses whose presidents and board of regents are responsible for 2 decades of massive increases making U.S. colleges, by far, the most expensive in the world.
Who Pays Federal Income Taxes
The latest IRS data is fortax year 2009 . A total of 140,494,128 returns were filed and the following summarizes the data from all returns into two income groups:
Tax Returns 97.2%2.8%
AGI Income 74.2%25.8%
Fed Tax Paid 49.9%50.1%
Tax Rate 7.6%22.1%
Paid No Tax 41.7%0.1%
(2.8% pay 50.1% of tax)
Increase taxes for the wealthy and make them pay their fair share.According to the current administration, that will solve our economic problems. No liberal and unfortunately some conservatives ever want to cut one dime of government spending; thus the “tax the rich” con job in order to continue the growth of government.
The U.S. debt increases about $4 billion per day. The proposed tax rate increase from 35% to 40% on the $1,000,000 plus earners will increase annual tax revenues by $31 billion.That will cover our daily excess spending for 8 days.
The added myth of cutting deductions for the wealthy should also be worrisome to all taxpayers. The total itemized and standard deductions subtracted from income is $2.5 trillion. The wealthy receive only $100 billion (4%) of this deduction and annual incomes under $200,000 receive 87% of all itemized and standard deductions.
Increasing taxes on the wealthy by closing loopholes and deductions available only to them should definitely be done.The problem is, selling this snake oil solution as a cure-allto avoid cutting government spending. We are stuck with an incompetent White House and a power hungry, egotistical, self-serving Congress.