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Wisconsin, it's crunch time for public schools

Posted: 6/5/2013 11:50:52 AM

June 5, 2013
Contact: Christina Brey, 608.298.2519

WEAC: Wisconsin, it’s crunch time for public schools

Dead-of-night vote to expand vouchers statewide an insult to generations

The Joint Finance Committee’s vote in the early hours of the morning to only slightly increase per-pupil funding in the state budget proposal for public school students while at the same time expand the taxpayer-funded private school voucher program statewide is an insult to the generations who built Wisconsin’s strong public schools.

“This is a formula for disaster,” said WEAC President Mary Bell, a Wisconsin teacher for more than 30 years. “Wisconsin lawmakers are fully aware there is $1.5 billion in revenue surplus yet have advanced a plan that offers a pittance to the majority of children in an attempt to distract citizens from the fact that they are opening the floodgates for taxpayer funding of private school tuition. To make this budget even worse for public school children, legislators added a double dip provision to benefit private schools by providing tax deductions for private school tuition.

“Unquestionably, this is a budget that would cause irreparable damage to public schools.

“Particularly disturbing is that this vote comes just as Wisconsin educators are graduating the Class of 2013. They’ve dedicated so much to helping these students reach success. Every single representative and senator can be sure that these educators care just as deeply for their future students, and will not be silent.

“The legislators on the committee who postponed a vote on this for more than eight hours so they could sneak it in while citizens slept don’t know Wisconsinites well and haven’t been listening to the grassroots groups formed by parents and concerned citizens like Champions of Green Bay Public Schools and Citizen Advocates for Public Education in Lake Mills. There are dozens more like them who will continue to stand with us for public school students.

“Just like these parents, Wisconsin educators want to improve their schools so every student has more opportunities for success. The way to improve public schools is not to move tax dollars to private institutions, where there is no accountability and fewer standards.

“It’s a myth that enrollment caps on vouchers will remain. The writing’s on the wall –caps will be lifted as soon as possible as was done in Milwaukee and Racine. The result will be a flood of tax dollars best used in public school classrooms pouring into private schools.

“Wisconsin, it’s crunch time. Don’t allow generations of public school investments to be eroded by a budget proposal crafted in the middle of the night without public input. Contact your legislators now and tell them you’re watching and expect them to step up for the neighborhood public schools in your communities.”

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Comments 1

  1. Sola 6/27/2013

    Although a provision auhzroiting domestic partner benefits wasn't included in last year's final state budget, campus efforts to move the issue forward continue unabated.A committee of faculty and staff continues to meet with legislative leadership, individual members of the legislature, UW System and Fair Wisconsin in hopes of making fresh progress.Among the approaches being considered are standalone legislation or possible action through the administrative rule process.Provost Patrick Farrell and Chancellor John Wiley have consistently argued that not being able to offer benefits puts UW Madison at a competitive disadvantage with peer institutions. UW Madison is the only Big Ten university, and one of only two universities among statutorily set peer research institutions, that does not offer domestic partner benefits.

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