The Hard Lesson of Republican Education Cuts

August 26, 2016

By Urban Media News Staff


A good public education is the key to building a successful and prosperous life for our children, our grandchildren and people across our community.


Despite this, Gov. Scott Walker and the Republicans who control our state legislature have put the education funds of our neighborhoods on the chopping block. Not only have they attacked teachers who serve our kids, but also they have stolen money from our schools to give to millionaires, billionaires, corporations and privatized, unaccountable schools.


The Republicans have already slashed $1 billion from our public schools at the while giving out a tax break that hands millionaires $150 million every year.


Even worse, they have placed our public school students at risk in order to advance their extreme right wing agenda and please their biggest donors, who want to see our public schools fail.


They’re willing to rig the system and sacrifice our children’s futures to get what they want. They attack our public schools even though when public schools and taxpayer-funded private operations are compared equally, public schools win the comparison.


Private schools in the voucher program in Wisconsin will receive hundreds of millions of dollars from state taxpayers this school year. Yet they remain exempt from many of the performance and safety standards we put on public schools — even after studies showing lackluster performance and news reports of questionable uses of public funds.


Instead of cracking down on subpar schools with fair accountability measures and standards, state Republicans are locking us into a system in which students that are in private voucher schools declared to be “chronically failing” can continue to use taxpayer funded vouchers to attend these schools.


The issue here isn’t the availability of better choices for students in Milwaukee. The issue is ensuring those better seeming options actually are better.


It is just common sense to require the people entrusted with educating the children at private voucher schools receiving tax dollars to be qualified, licensed professionals. After all, that’s what the law currently requires of our public schools. But that’s not currently the case for voucher schools. And Republicans don’t care.


But that’s because of the political clout wielded by the school privatizers in Wisconsin.


Gov. Walker’s campaign chair runs an $800 million right wing funding machine which has invested $100 million in propaganda attacking our public schools. The American Federation for Children, a front group overseen by former Republican Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, has publicly bragged of pouring massive amounts of campaign cash to elect sympathetic legislators. And out-of-state millionaire and billionaires, including heirs to the Wal-Mart and Amway fortunes, have consistently made large campaign contributions directly to voucher friendly Republican elected officials.


Scott Walker has gotten $2 million alone in contribution to his political campaign account from school privatization supporters.


It is important that we set expectations for the quality of education our kids receive in the schools that we pay for. It is reasonable to expect consequences if expectations are not met. Unfortunately the efforts of Walker and his Republicans fall woefully short of protecting our children and tax dollars, instead putting ideology and political payback before helping our schools be the best that they can be.