I am not sure how Scott Walker and his minions are going to try to spin this one; however, last Thursday's announcement makes it painfully obvious that Milwaukee Public Schools are out of "tools" and are likely without a toolbox:
Milwaukee Public Schools' staff would be reduced by more than 400 positions next year [...] More than 100 of the teaching positions proposed for elimination are tied to [eight] school closings that are set to take effect by the end of this school year.
These layoffs and school closings are on top of 519 layoffs in 2011 and 482 in 2010. Per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
of the 519 layoffs in 2011, 354 K-8 teachers were eventually recalled.
The teachers in Milwaukee are protected from Scott Walker's "tools" until the summer of 2013; however, cutting teachers salaries and benefits is not the answer to the problems in Milwaukee. Laying off teachers and closing schools is not going to help either.
The first thing that needs to be addressed is the privatization of Milwaukee Public Schools through the voucher program. Taking tax dollars out of the public school system and giving them to private, and often religious, schools is not the answer. Test results for the first time show voucher students performing "similar or worse" than other poor Milwaukee students.
If students are performing no better in private schools then it is obvious that the voucher program is a failure. It needs to end and that money needs to go back to Milwaukee Public Schools. We must stop the privatization of our public school system. It is my belief that a large part of the reason that Scott Walker has attacked teachers and teachers unions in the way that he has is to break the teachers unions in Wisconsin. Once the teachers unions are weakened or gone it becomes much easier to privatize education as the unions will not have a unified voice to stop it from happening.
This really isn't just about Milwaukee Public Schools. Milwaukee Schools are just a highly visible part of the problem. As much as I hate to see the children of Wisconsin hurt by a statewide teachers strike I am to the point where I see no other option for educators. The demands of the strike should be simple. An amendment to the State Constitution that prevents tax dollars from going to private schools at the expense of public schools, and public education should be fully funded. Which means raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations. They need to start paying their fair share.
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