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Prepare for gutting of Milwaukee Education

April 16, 2015

prepare for gutting

By Steve Waring
Special to the Milwaukee Times
The Milwaukee Citizens
Coalition has some bad news
to deliver to supporters of
K-12 public education in
Wisconsin: Deep painful
cuts are coming to public
education next year.
The Milwaukee Public
School system is likely to have
$12.1 million less with which
to educate students based on
estimated cuts to school districts
in Milwaukee County,
based on figures prepared
by the Wisconsin Education
Association Council. Total
cuts to Milwaukee County
are estimated to amount to
$19.3 million.
The cuts will reduce per
pupil spending in Wisconsin
to approximately the same
level in 2015 that it was in
2009 and that figure is not
adjusted for inflation.
Those spending priorities
are not in the best
interest of the people
of Wisconsin, according
to Dee Pettack, a panelist
and legislative liaison
with the Wisconsin Department
of Public Instruction
who said that
the clearest indicator by
far of academic achievement
was poverty. Students
from the lowest
income households performed
on the average
worse across every racial
demographic. Without a
good education, children
born into poverty are far
more likely to remain impoverished.
The figures were made
available at a panel discussion
held March 31 at the
Franklin Public Library. The
event, which featured a fiveperson
panel discussion as
well as time for questions
from the audience of about
50. The event was sponsored
by the Milwaukee Citizens
Coalition.
“There was no debate
about education during
[the gubernatorial] campaign.
Education never
came up,” said Ted Kraig,
a panelist and member
of the Wisconsin Education
Association Council.
“Now we have this phenomenally
radical plan to
dismantle public education.”
Mr. Kraig said the irony
of the situation was that
59 percent of Wisconsin
residents were in favor
of increasing funding for
K-12 public education.
Supporters outnumber
opponents by nearly 2-1
in favoring school reform
that provides educators with
the resources they need to be
effective.
Unfortunately those voices
are not the ones being heard
by the Governor and State
Assembly in Madison, according
to Ms. Pettack. She
estimated that the legislature
spends 90 percent of its time
in Madison catering to the
needs of the 12 percent of
students in Wisconsin who
attend private schools.
She also noted that in the
average charter school, 70
percent of the students are
receiving voucher payments
from the state.
“At what point are you a
private school, when you receive
more than 70 percent
of your funding from the
public,” she asked rhetorically.
In addition to reducing
funding, the proposed budget
caps the amount of revenue
a district can raise and
spend on education. Any increase above the cap would
have to be applied to lowering
property taxes. The new plan
also lifts all caps on voucher
schools and would create an
unelected board to oversee
private charter schools that
are not controlled affiliated
with the public school system.
Middle and high school
teachers would no longer be
required to have earned a degree
or in fact received any
training at all in education .
“This is a war being waged
against the public sector
which has been carefully
thought through by wealthy
individuals who really don’t
want a public sector at all,”
said Robert Peterson, a
member of the Milwaukee
Teachers Education Association.
“There is no sense that
we are all to some degree
responsible to each other.
Public education is a very important
part of what creates
community. What’s happening
is a real step backwards.”