All schools feel impact of state budget cuts
Children will be back to school soon and—as a teacher for three decades—I know Wisconsin educators are feeling that back-to-school excitement that comes with this time of year, even though this will be one of the most difficult years they have ever faced.
It’s my life-calling to teach children. I’m proud of my profession and of all the Wisconsin public school employees who are my colleagues. We’re proud of the fact that 98 percent of Wisconsin teachers are highly qualified and that our state is tops in graduation rates, college entrance exams and Advanced Placement scores. Those accomplishments came about because of dedication and hard work on behalf of employees and investment—community by community—in children and schools.
Despite our strong traditions, there are some things that set the start of this year apart from others. Wisconsin has said goodbye to many longtime educators, through massive retirements and layoffs due to severe budget cuts and divisive state politics. With nearly $1 billion less in state aid for programs such as gifted and talented, school milk, at-risk students and college prep, our students will feel the impact.
It’s clear from news of increasing school fees, larger class sizes and elimination of teacher preparation time that the amount of money educators are contributing toward their benefits cannot offset the large-scale cuts that will take place this year, and the even more dramatic cuts coming next year.
More than ever before, our students are depending on all of us—teachers, parents, communities—to foster partnerships that overcome obstacles and ensure every child a quality public education. At the end of the day, that’s what education is all about: student success. As a union of educators, we are committed to moving education forward.
For tips to help the children in your life start the year off right, visit weac.org/parents.
Mary Bell is a library media specialist in Wisconsin Rapids and president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state’s largest teachers union. Address is P.O. Box 8003, Madison WI 53708; website weac.org.