Educating Our Children

schoolbus

Across Northern Wisconsin, public schools serve as the backbone of our communities and our economies. They educate our children, prepare them for a meaningful life as well as meaningful employment. In addition, they are the emotional and physical center of our towns and villages, places where young and old, educators and volunteers, business leaders, and elected officials come together in a common purpose. Unfortunately, under our current Governor and republican controlled legislature, our schools have suffered, especially rural schools.

During the 2011-2012 session, the majority party made the largest cuts to public education in Wisconsin history, $1.6 billion in total reductions. The 2013-2014 budget did contain a small increase in state aid, but not nearly enough to even start making up for the cuts from 2011.

To make matters worse, the legislature continues to shortchange public school students by taking your tax dollars away from our schools and sending them to unaccountable private voucher schools. Over the last four years, spending on voucher schools has increased by 47%. At the same time, the legislature has rejected efforts to truly make these voucher schools accountable for the tax dollars they receive.

We hear a lot about how government has to be more efficient, that savings can be found by reducing inefficiencies and duplications. Yet the majority party is creating a second school system by forcing taxpayers across the state to fund private schools as well as public schools. The vast majority of the students who received private-school vouchers this year were not “escaping a failing school,” they were already enrolled in a private school and are now using your tax dollars. It’s unfair to the students at public schools and unfair to the taxpayers.

I will continue to advocate for a fairer system, one where students in Northern Wisconsin are not getting the short end of the stick. We can find common-sense ways to give public school students the resources they need and protect taxpayers. Working together, I know we can find a way to return our public schools to the place of pride that they have historically held.