Sunday, August 17, 2008

Low Tax States Preparing Fewer Kids For College Work

State Sen. Mary Lazich, (R-New Berlin), has dragged out that tired "tax hell" red herring again, and lauds states like Montana, Colorado and South Dakota that have lower tax rates more to her liking.

I've spent time in those states, and they are indeed gorgeous and have a lot going for them.

But how well do they provide public services that we here in Wisconsin want, like education?

Some data is suggesting that these tax heavens may not be as desirable as Lazich suggests, or where you'd want your kids to go from high school to college.

It turns out that Wisconsin, which does spend heavily on education, does a better job preparing its children for college than Montana, Colorado and South Dakota, according to ACT testing data.

Here are the percentages of ACT-tested students that are successfully prepared to do college-level work in these four subjects - - English composition, algebra, social sciences and biology:

Wisconsin, 30%; South Dakota, 28%, Montana, 26%, Colorado, 20%.

All lower than what you'd hope for, but where would you want to be on that list?

Where would you want your college-bound students to have gone to high school?

There is substantial variation among the number of children tested in the states, and variation also among the separate disciplines' scores - - for example, in preparation for college-level algebra, the numbers are Wisconsin, 56%, South Dakota, 50%, Montana, 59%, and Colorado, 30% - - but the point is that taxes do provide valuable services that most people and families demand, from education to fire protection to law enforcement to public health.

Basically, you get what you pay for, and there are situations where if you cut corners and do everything on the cheap, the consequences are more far-reaching than having saved a few bucks as a shopper or homeowner.


Anonymous said...

Including CO is really deceptive since 100% take the test.

With the ACT it is really important when comparing one state to another that they have similar participation rates. Wisconsin and South Dakota seem "somewhat fair" in this sense, but Montana and CO diverge too much.

But then I thought CO was one the good guys since they had rail and all.

I certainly don't feel we spend heavily on education. State revenue have been decreasing exponentially for the last 20 years. Both the feds and states have abandoned their commitment to special education and put it on local property taxes. Doyle's idea of state aid is loosening revenue controls so local taxes can increase more than they would otherwise. Geeze, with friends like this who needs enemies.

James Rowen said...

To Proletariat: It's hardly accurate to say it's "really deceptive" to include Colorado because I noted that there are differences in the numbers of students tested.

It would have been deceptive if I had failed to make mention of the testing difference.

Overall, I take your comment less seriously because the rail remark isn't even cute, and is irrelevant.

Are you trying to make a point or be a snarkmeister?

And exponentially is a big word to throw around when it comes to descriing cuts in education spending in Wisconsin.

It's true that state revenues have declined, but Wisconsin still spends heavily on education, and some of the states Lazich cited do not.

Which was my point.

Anonymous said...

I guess it all depends on where you live, in Milwaukee sure, in Madison, definitely not.

I guess then if we wanted to put state education spending to the test, we'd have to compare Madison to Milwaukee.

My point was simply if you do not test all students like CO does, it will elate the score.

I disagree with you that we are spending enough on education. I also don't think the ACT scores support your case, although I agree the state should spend more on Education, especially in Madison.

James Rowen said...

I didn't say we spend enough on education. Do not put words in my mouth.

I said we spend heavily, unlike the states that Lazich cited as alternatives to our "tax hell."

I said I'd spent time in some of those very those states, and though I cannot recall the precise studies, I happened to have been in South Dakota and Montana when data came out showing them at or near the bottom on indicies like teacher salaries, or other measurements that reflected badly on the education processes there.

What I said was: you get what your pay for.

My point continues to be that the tax hell argument made by the right rhetorically masks its willingness to accept lower-level public services.

Conservatives, especially if they have money, do not need or support public services at the same levl that middle-class and poorer residents need or support public services.


Attend private schools.


Stay in your own backyard or go to the club.


Who needs them when you've got a state-of-the-art home cumputer set-up.


Get in your car (s?)?

Public health nurses, or clinics?

Private medical care is affordable to higher-income people, and if you really have money, you can pay for it with an HSA and get a tax break, too.

And so forth.

Paine from the Left said...

Here's the problem brought to us by conservative legislation over the past twenty years. Concerning public education the revenue caps continue to force massive cuts in education budgets. At the same time property taxes are still high and we are getting less and less for our money. As a stident liberal I have to admit the right has succeeded. I now believe my property taxes are too high for both the eduation and municipal services I receive.