Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

May 29, 2011

Joint Finance Continues The Assault On Wisconsin’s Kids

Filed under: MPS,Scott Walker,Wisconsin Class Warfare — millerlf @ 10:44 am

On Friday the Joint Finance Committee agreed to reduce funding cuts to public education by approximately 12 %. Alberta Darling (and company) is trying to give a new face to the massive slashing of public education funds. This will prove meaningless as Darling faces recall for her misconduct as a legislator.

Following is a letter from “I Love My Public Schools” in response to the Joint Finance Committee’s decision.

Dear Public School Supporter:

Do you have 20 minutes, and a computer? Please write a letter to the editor this weekend to address the Joint Finance Committee’s vote on Friday to defund public education statewide.

The JFC agreed, along party lines, to reduce funding to Wisconsin public schools by $1.6 billion over the biennium, instead of the $1.7 billion Scott Walker had proposed. They returned about $100 million to the state education budget, to be used over two years. When Robin Vos called the vote, he even claimed that the JFC had just “restored” public-education funding. But that $100 million is a mere fraction of the total cut and will make little if any difference in our children’s classrooms next year. Over the last few weeks, we’d hoped that math teacher leaders, school nurses and special funding for high-needs schools and at risk children might be spared the budget ax. Not so.

Furthermore, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/122732019.html) only tells half the story as it focuses solely on the state aid portion of the cut and not the law change that restricts the amount that districts can raise locally. Those two pieces taken together are referred to as the “revenue authority” and reductions to revenue authority equal about $1.6 billion. Expanding voucher and 2r charter schools also is not free and the JFC will be doing that next week.

The JFC had the money to temper the cuts to public education. They had the money to take on comprehensive funding reform and implement the DPI’s Fair Funding for Our Future plan. They’d like us to think that they didn’t but they did, it was sitting in their hands. They’re spending $200 million on a hedge fund plan that even Senator Grothman is questioning. On Friday they shifted an additional $160 million more to highways. That’s $360 million right there that could have gone to education, and you don’t have to search too hard to find the rest. Again, this is not a matter of can’t, it is a conscious choice to force Wisconsin’s 871,000 public school children to bear the brunt of our state’s financial burden.

Here’s how Republican legislator Alberta Darling described the cuts: “A win-win.” Here’s how Democratic legislator Tamara Grigsby described the cuts: “The GOP is throwing concrete over kids.” http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/122732019.html

To recap–The JFC says “Yes” to fund:

$200 million hedge fund

$160 million more to road-building projects (for a total of $360 million on highways)

$1.8 million for Racine charter schools

A $7 million voter ID bill

And “yes” to take an unprecedented $1.6 billion away from K-12 public education over the biennium, despite the fact that the Legislative Fiscal Bureau projects $636 million in newly found revenue for next year.

Please write a letter to the editor this weekend. In 150-200 words, tell the people of Wisconsin what you think our kids deserve. Tell them what will happen to your child’s school when these cuts are realized. The JFC waited until the last possible moment of the holiday weekend to finalize these school-killing cuts. Don’t let the media forget about this by the time Tuesday rolls around. Let’s flood the editor’s box at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Wisconsin State Journal, or any newspaper of your choosing. We must stand up at every opportunity and resist the de-funding, privatization and segregation of public education.

Here’s a link to MJS “Letter to the Editor” details: http://www.jsonline.com/news/30627794.html

And one for the State Journal: http://host.madison.com/wsj/opinion/mailbag/

And one for the Green Bay Press Gazette: http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/ic/forms/editor.shtml

Racine Journal Times, http://journaltimes.com/app/lettertotheeditor/

And a link to other Wisconsin newspapers all across the state: http://www.usnpl.com/winews.php

Write away, friends.

Sincerely,

ILMPS

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