“We have to rethink how we go about educating our children and what we want to accomplish. The creativity, excitement and challenge of teaching have been stifled by rules, regulations and testing requirements. We spend so much time and money on testing and evaluating that teachers don’t have the time to teach or the resources and energy to try innovative approaches. We need a different plan.”
Public schools educate most of Wisconsin children. They represent our future and are at the heart of community life.
The fallout from Act 10 and the criticizing of public school teachers had profound effect on schools. Teachers left and retired. Fewer college students are going into education. School districts have trouble filling vacancies. Standards for teachers were lowered. Morale is low. Student opportunities were diminished. Cuts in state aid have forced taxpayers to pass referenda and raise property taxes just to keep their schools running.
Despite increases in the Governor’s election-year budget, schools haven’t recovered from the massive cuts in state aid in 2011. In real dollars schools will be getting less in the next two years than a decade ago.
Likewise, our University of Wisconsin has been underfunded and demoralized. I will restore the cuts and stem the exodus of top professors to states where political leaders give them respect.
In the alternative budgets I have written over the past eight years, I took dollars from, among other sources, corporate tax breaks and cash payments. I rearranged existing dollars to show how we can change how we pay for schools and not harm any district in the state. I also showed, with existing dollars, how we could replace the dollars taken from the University in past budgets and invest $100 million in UW needs based financial aid.
We need to reduce our reliance on the property tax to fund schools. The cornerstone of school funding should be state aid. Since the formula was first enacted, our demographics have changed, our economy has changed. It is time we rethink the way we fund schools. Tinkering around the edges is not enough.
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