We the People

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Politics and civil commentary with community columnist John Eyster.

Shell game with OUR state budget very confusing! Part III– PK-12 Public Education

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John Eyster
Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Shell game with OUR state budget very confusing! Part III– PK-12 Public Education

TODAY our WI State Assembly picks up the “SHELL GAME” which is our WI State Budget for 2013-15! Are YOU are aware of the REAL provisions of the budget approved by the Joint Finance Committee even after their ALL-NIGHT session? I urge you to be sure YOU are aware. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Forewarned is forearmed!

If you want to read an overview of the proposed state budget going to the Assembly Floor today with review of the tactics being planned by the GOP leaders in the Assembly and Senate, I recommend Jason Stein’s, “GOP leaders rush to prep Wisconsin budget plan for final vote.”

My own interest both professionally (retired high school teacher, retired Legislative Liaison of the School District of Janesville) and personally ((2 are now in Milton schools, 2 are future students in Janesville schools), I have been watching extra carefully the developments related to PK-12 public education in WI from Governor Walker’s proposed budget through the GOP CONTROLLED Joint Finance Committee with delivery to the floor of our ASSEMBLY today. I do NOT think our GOP controlled legislature and governor are providing adequately for PK-12 public education. I already accused the GOP legislators and governor of investing in their own RE-election in November 2014 through the “BRIBE” of the inordinate income tax cuts on Thursday, June 6, "Shell game with OUR State Budget very confusing! Part II - Income Tax Cut - BRIBE for re-election!" What do YOU think?

The provisions in the budget for PK-12 public education which I specifically oppose are:

  1. Expansion of private voucher schools statewide. Our State Superintendent of Public Education Tony Evers estimates this expansion to ALL school districts throughout WI could eventually cost taxpayers $1.9 billion a year.

  2. Forcing taxpayers to provide a $31 million tax deduction to subsidize parents who already send their children to private schools. This is the largest entitlement program in Wisconsin in a generation and one provided to parents regardless of income. More money for the wealthy from our tax coffers!

  3. Increase public school funding by just $100 per pupil in the first year and $150 in the second year, despite making cuts of $550 per public school student in the last budget (2011-2013). PK-12 public education DESPERATELY needs to keep up with increasing costs to maintain QUALITY education.

  4. Force property tax increases and additional local school aid cuts in many communities both rural and urban.

What are YOUR comments?

I was interested in the press conferences held yesterday around WI by SUPPORTERS of PK-12 public education outlining the provisions of State Superintendent Evers’ “Fair Funding for Our Future.” You can use this link to read the report in the Appleton Post-Crescent, “Democrats urge moderate Republicans to join them in voting against state budget.”

Among the provisions in the WI State Budget going to the Assembly Floor today are numerous items which DEMOCRATS would like to change. The REPUBLICAN majority in the Assembly is so large that there is essentially NO CHANCE of an amendment passing. In fact, the Speaker has asserted he will WORK TO PREVENT ANY, but technical correction AMENDMENTS! This is “REAL DEMOCRACY”! DAH! What do YOU think?

I believe that the alternative funding proposals in the “Fair Funding for Our Future” proposed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers are crucial for PK-12 public education, these include:

  1. Increase public school funding by $275 per pupil to restore the 2011-2013 funding cut.

  2. Remove voucher expansion from the budget bill. Policy provision which stand on its own 2-feet as a separate bill for discussion and vote.

  3. Amend the budget to require private voucher schools equal mandated accountability measures with public schools. WHY NOT?! Our TAX MONEY!

I believe “Fair Funding for Our Future” is crucial for the FUTURE of K-12 public education throughout WI. What do YOU think?

There are numerous resources online if you wish to read more about PK-12 public education policies and funding. I suggest the following two special interest groups which have important research with analysis and interpretation on PK-12 public education as of special significance:

Wisconsin Council on Children & Families. The Council is a multi-issue child and family advocacy organization, providing research, policy analysis, public education and advocacy that lead to improved outcomes for children in the areas of health, economic security, safety and education. We believe that children need strong voices representing them, and so are committed to using research, policy analysis, and public education to raise voices to make every kid count.

I regularly read the Wisconsin Budget Project focus on education and recommend it. You can use this link for direct access “Wisconsin Budget Project: Education.”

Institute for Wisconsin’s Future. I follow IWF’s “Opportunity To Learn” campaign which has 5 tenets:

  1. High-quality early childhood education - Research proves the clear benefits to students, communities, and society when we provide high-quality pre-school programs to all children, regardless of race, geography, or family income.

  2. Highly prepared, effective and supported teachers - Studies show that access to a highly effective teacher - one who has strong content, professional expertise, and classroom experience - has a tremendous impact on student achievement and outcomes.

  3. Solid and challenging curriculum - Every school, regardless of zip code or the socioeconomic status of its students, must have an integrated, balanced, relevant, and rigorous curriculum that builds functional skills for the 21st century.

  4. Equitable Instructional Resources - Students flourish when they have access to the latest books, technology, research, and learning tools. Therefore, it is vital that all classrooms are equipped with the instructional resources that key to better teaching and learning.

  5. Expanded learning options - By creating permanent community partnerships and learning options schools can provide the highest quality public education for all students.

Our WI State Assembly hopes to complete the debate on the WI State Budget tomorrow when it adjourns with the goal of sending it to the State Senate to start debate on Thursday. Fast and furious?

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Forearmed is forearmed! What is YOUR comment?

Here we go…

Mr. E.

Last updated: 8:25 am Monday, July 29, 2013

John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor assigned with the online/distance education faculty of Viterbo University, LaCrosse. He continues his personal mission supporting democracy/civics education in Wisconsin K-12 schools through Project Citizen, We the People, Discovering Democracy (Milton HS). John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff or management.

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