Shortly after Scott Walker was first elected as governor of Wisconsin, he set about attacking the state's education system to prepare it for privatization. His first act was to cut more than a billion dollars from the education system. The effects of this massive cut were devastating, so much so that even the school district that Walker championed as a "success story" is failing horribly.
This year, Walker and his Republican cohorts in the state legislature have upped their attacks on the public education system. Walker wants to eliminate the requirement that teachers actually know how to teach. Meanwhile, his cohorts in crimes against humanity are trying to mandate that the public schools they deem to be unworthy have to become private schools - all at the taxpayers' expense, of course.
Ah, but there's more. There's always more.
Walker wants to further cut funding to public schools. An act so heinous that the editorial board of the Appleton Post-Crescent had to publicly lambaste him for it:
Walker is neither adding to the revenue limit nor including a per-pupil increase. For the next two years, districts will get the same money they have this year. If their fixed costs — like fuel, electricity or heating — go up, tough. Since a district’s budget is 80 to 90 percent personnel costs, the cuts will come from personnel in some form.
And then, it gets worse.
Walker wants to expand the statewide voucher program for students from low-income families (the limit is about $44,000 for a family of four) by eliminating the 1,000-student cap. The only saving grace is that, unlike the current program, the students getting new vouchers have to be coming from a public school or entering kindergarten. They can’t already be in private schools.
And, instead of providing extra money for vouchers in the budget, it’ll be taken entirely out of the pot of money for public schools. If a district loses five kids, it’ll lose what it would’ve gotten from the state to educate those kids. But, a district can’t reduce fixed costs in the same way. It’ll be another financial hit.
And then, it gets worse.
Walker — who has converted from a Common Core proponent to an opponent — finally has discovered that there’s no mandate for school districts to use the educational standards. But in his budget plan, he wants to get rid of the standardized tests that go along with Common Core — tests that state districts have been preparing for over several years and will use for the first time this year. He said districts can choose their own tests, which would make comparing districts difficult.
And, after failing in the last budget, he’s taking another swing at setting up a board that will approve independent charter schools — schools that could be non-profit or for-profit (red flag!) that operate outside of a school district’s governance.
As they did two years ago with the last budget, enough of Walker’s fellow Republicans in the Legislature may object to the governor financially stiffing public schools and will find some extra money to help them.
“I don’t see how they go two years without any (new) money,” Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon and the Senate Republicans’ leading education expert, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
But the governor’s plan leads to two interesting philosophical questions.
Given how our public education system is so important to everything we do in the state that it’s engrained in our state constitution, shouldn’t we want to conserve it?
And, given how Walker wants to further damage our public education system, where’s the “conservative” in that?
It makes one wonder if even Walker is narcissistic and hypocritical enough to run as the education candidate for the GOP.