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Governor Scott Walker has been sending out press releases like a madman here in the formerly Great State of Wisconsin stating that his “tools” have done wonders for school districts across this fair land. These wondrous school districts have been able to hire more teachers, reduce class sizes and add programs. The problem, the fairy dust, a.k.a. “tools,” was not spread out to all school districts across the state. While a few districts were able to add staff, the majority of districts are being forced to cut staff, cut programs and increase class sizes. The Pepin school district is a prime example of the future of public education in Wisconsin:
Changes students will encounter when they return to school next month include a classroom shared by fourth- through sixth-graders. Because of the elimination of one rural bus route, many students will now ride the bus for more than an hour, morning and evening. All sports will be shared with a neighboring district. A program to give special help to struggling math students in elementary school has been eliminated and a reading specialist’s time has been cut by 40 percent. A high school teacher has been eliminated. Beginning this fall, Pepin will share an art teacher with a neighboring district, trimming art programming for Pepin students by 40 percent.

Other examples of the painful cuts that school districts across the state have to endure are:

At Beloit Turner, the elimination of the high school alternative education program and a position cut due to cancellation of a specific state grant, are called “a severe cut to our at-risk students.”

In Auburndale, the district will no longer offer advanced placement English or advanced placement computer science. There will be less instruction in both vocal and instrumental music. The drama program will likely be cut.

In Oconto Falls, cuts at the high school include positions in special education, the mathematics lab, technical education and the library. At the middle school, the district eliminated half-time positions for band and math and a half-time dean of students.

St. Croix Central will hire lower-paid para-professionals to replace certified teachers in the elementary school library, the English language learner program and a technology coordinator program.

I am sure these are not the most severe cuts we will see over the next couple of years. School districts across the state have reported a higher number of teacher retirements, which in some cases has softened the blow of the budget cuts and has prevented further budget cuts; however, a teacher is gone and has not been replaced. The increase in employee funding for health and retirement plans has also softened the blow for some school districts, although that savings is likely a one-time savings that will not help in the coming years.

Most frightening was a comment from Stephan Schiell, the superintendent of the Amery school district (a small town way up nort der hey): “[…] Not having to bargain with the union will make [the budget] easier to balance. Remember, we can always have our employees pay more for their benefits. The law does not have a cap.”

Now think about what he said ... "the law does not have a cap" ... let that sink in. Basically, what he is saying is that eventually teachers will be paying 100 percent of health care and pension benefits. This is the goal of union busting, low wages, no benefits and no job security. I do not understand how balancing the budget on the backs of the very people we rely on to educate our children can be considered a good idea. If anything, it will cause good teachers to seek employment elsewhere and educators that may not be qualified will be hired in their place.

Scott Walker not only started a war against public employees in Wisconsin, he and his Republican colleagues are waging war against our educational system. The very tool we need to train the workers and leaders of tomorrow. I prefer my tool kit to Walker’s—I say we start taxing the rich and making corporations pay their fair share. If corporate America wants an educated workforce for the future they had better step up to the plate now; if they don’t, their quest for short-term profits over long-term growth will be the end of the United States being a world power.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Aug 25, 2011 at 12:15 PM PDT.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wanker must really, really want... (7+ / 0-) be recalled in January. Let's hope he gets his!

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Thu Aug 25, 2011 at 12:40:34 PM PDT

  •  You have my sympathies (7+ / 0-)

    Short-term thinking is a curse, and the children are going to get to pay for it.

    When I was a teacher, I weathered a lot of boneheaded ideas imposed on us from above, in private school and public; each "innovation" would last a year or two until everyone saw that it was impractical, unhelpful or actively destructive, and then we were allowed to correct our course.  The problem with that approach, of course, is that the children involved don't get a "do over" for the years of their education that were disrupted by some bureaucrat's bright idea.

    Wasting a child's time is a terrible thing to do, and when I look at the education cuts going on all over the country (the district I taught in has sustained even deeper cuts in the year since I was laid off -- the schools are barely functional), that's what I see.  Don't think the students don't get it, either -- they definitely do.

    I'm trying hard to maintain my natural optimism, but it this environment, it's a challenge!

  •  They Make The Cuts & Completely Defund Other (9+ / 0-) they can say, obviously public education isn't working.  We need to privatize the system.  

    It's a set up for failure, orchestrated by state legislatures.  This is where ALEC comes in.  Follow the's a loop of Republican lawmakers w/ an agenda of privatization.

  •  I bet their sports teams don't get cut. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That's how things work around here.

    Never meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will piss on your computer.--Bruce Graham

    by Ice Blue on Thu Aug 25, 2011 at 01:04:28 PM PDT

    •  The sports teams right now... (5+ / 0-) least where I am are paid for primarily through fund-raising. Want to by some cookie dough from my son?

      "Republicans only care about the rich" - My late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

      by Mark E Andersen on Thu Aug 25, 2011 at 01:10:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Same here. (6+ / 0-)

        In sports we got money from booster clubs. This went from the art department, to the music department, athletics, technology,  and ironically enough - marketing. That's right, marketing was underfunded and we had to make money to run that.  When I went through school we were basically run on that and our teachers were very careful with spending.

        That being said, I had some of the kindest, most demanding, and most giving teachers back in my school when I didn't have anything. They bought me new shoes once they noticed my feet got completely raw and bloody from wearing old ones that had holes in it and often had places where I could wash my clothes in. It was mostly because of them I was able to keep going and get a good GPA and go to college.

        My family raised me on 8 dollars an hour. I'll tell you something, it isn't fun - and it makes me even more angry that there are jackasses like conservatives who say we somehow live off the high life because we have a fridge and a freezer. ( spoilers: most of our things we got were things that were just a year old and tossed out by others because they had to just keep up. Good as new. )

        Really either way you don't forget giving teachers like that. It upsets me this dick move was done to them because all I can remember is that they were the only ones pushing me and saying I had worth in the world. Saying that they don't struggle is such a pile of bull shit especially since I have STRUGGLED to get this job in the private sector, have always been accused of having no 'real talent'. You are only looked at because of your race.

        I don't forget that girl who was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, entitled, rich, stereotypically conservative -- when it came down to choosing between the two of us competing for the same design firm she screamed that I was another race and that's why I was chosen. Nevermind she always tried to design things and forced them down her clients throats. Nevermind she never listened to her clients. Nevermind she procrastinated. Nevermind  she never listened to constructive criticism. Nevermind practicing art and design was practically an obsession with me, thus why I improved. Yeah, it was clearly because of my race and you know - not just because I worked harder and showed to be more capable than her.

        ... Fuck conservatives. Seriously. At one point I drank their kool aid before I could vote, believing in the American Dream and then I realized once I got out in the real world it was just a trick of the light so assholes like this could stay in their fantasy land.

  •  republished to Badger State Progressive... nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueyedace2, Mark E Andersen
  •  Your post led me to look-up (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    isewquilts2, stcroix cheesehead

    an article on the situation in the Janesville schools.  Here's a quote from an article I found from just two days ago in the website:

    Cut more spending? The superintendent says that after cutting the full-time equivalent of 110 employees and $9 million, any more cuts would do unacceptable harm to education.

    I've included the link to the article.  Given the amount of cuts that have already been planned, I feel for this people.  It's heartbreaking to read of how the parents and the school board are struggling so hard to try to work that budget out.   Makes me dislike Scott Walker and the Fitzjackals that much more.  We have to get our legislature back and get a Democrat in the governor's office.  The current occupant is going to take this state back to the 1800s before he's done.

    Objecting to our governor’s policies does not make a citizen of Wisconsin a criminal. Not yet, anyway. ~ nelangst

    by 3goldens on Thu Aug 25, 2011 at 02:43:17 PM PDT

    •  The goal is to privatize.. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, isewquilts2 The Republican's do not care a whit about public education.

      "Republicans only care about the rich" - My late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

      by Mark E Andersen on Thu Aug 25, 2011 at 03:12:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  exactly (2+ / 0-)

        Private schools aren't on  the same playing field as public schools in WI.  Private schools do not have to provide special education services; what you will see is private schools with "regular" ed and talented kids, and the public schools will be left with special ed.  They will then be accused of failing because their test scores will be lower due to their special needs population.
        The handwriting is on the wall.  I don't think WI education will ever recover from Scott Walker.

  •  It will be generations before we recover (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark E Andersen, isewquilts2

    from all of this.  Walker hasn't been in office for a year and the damage he has caused will be felt long past the time I turn to ashes.  Not educating the populace is a quick route to a third world standard of living.  

    Every day is a good day. Some are just better than others!

    by BabeInTotalControlofHerself on Thu Aug 25, 2011 at 06:41:28 PM PDT

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