Walker's Budget Could Rock Your World (again) On Tuesday, February 3, Scott Walker introduced his budget proposal covering the next two years. For public school employees, Walker's proposed budget is shocking. Here is some of what he is proposing: Drastically cut funding for public schools (yes, again): The revenue cap on what districts can raise and spend would stay flat. Any increase in state aid would have to go to property tax relief. Not allowing districts to increase revenue at all is the same thing as a cut because the cost of everything schools need to pay for is always increasing. But the proposal gets worse. In addition to frozen revenue caps, the budget cuts $150 per pupil in categorical aid (money received and spent outside of the revenue caps). This amounts to another historic cut to public schools along lines no one would have dreamed of prior to Walker's governorship. An explosive expansion of voucher schools (far worse than before): The cap on voucher schools (private schools funded with public money) would be lifted. This would be paid for directly with money taken from state aid to public schools. Over time, this expansion would likely drain hundreds of millions of dollars from public schools, leading from everything to further compensation cuts for educators to drastic increases in class size. The money would go to voucher schools that are demonstrably inferior to public schools. Open a new floodgate to privately run charter schools: A new unelected board would be established to authorize privately run charter schools (schools not controlled by local school boards and generally run by large national chain operators). Again, all of the funding for these schools comes from state aid taken from local school districts. Again, these schools are demonstrably inferior to community public schools. Teachers at current privately run charter schools in Wisconsin are, on average, half as experienced as public school teachers in their area and make, on average, $18,000 less per year. Lower standards for the teaching profession: Middle and high school teachers would no longer have to have a degree in education or any other training as a teacher, only a BA and "real life experience". As a consequence of Act 10, many fewer students now graduate annually from schools of education. Walker's solution is to cheapen and deprofessionalize the teaching profession. The goal of the budget appears to be to continue defunding public schools and handing over control of education to private operators with lousy track records and hidden motives. The consequences for our lives as educators who are committed to our students' futures cannot be overstated. Please take action by visiting WEAC website at www.weac.org/take-action/ where you can learn more, contact your legislator and send a letter to the editor.
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