One of the great pleasures of serving as president of WEAC Region 6 is that it allows me frequent opportunities to meet with and learn from excellent education professionals throughout our part of the state. I have the best colleagues a person could ask for in the Oregon School District, where I teach high school social studies. By working with the unionized staff in the dozens of school districts throughout our region, I am able to multiply those collegial benefits.
Michael Dorn is one of those great, new colleagues. Michael teaches math and is the president of the Milton Education Association. The last issue of Region 6 SmartBoard featured a letter Michael wrote to the Janesville Gazette the day Governor Scott Walker visited Michael’s school.
During his visit, Walker presented himself as someone who values investments in public schools. He is visiting schools throughout the state talking about the $200-per-pupil increase he proposed in his 2017-19 budget. He seems to want people to thank him.
Michael was having none of it. He was respectful, and even complimented Walker for visiting public schools. How better to learn more about what goes on inside them? Then Michael used the occasion of Walker’s visit to bring more attention to the ways Walker’s policies have harmed students in Milton and jeopardized our state’s future.
“Clearly, the Milton School District has suffered under the anti-public education policies of this administration,” Michael wrote. “When the governor’s Act 10 was passed, public schools in Wisconsin saw decreased funding of $1.6 billion over two years. This year, the private school voucher program drained over $245 million from public schools statewide.”
During his Milton High School visit, Walker did not meet with most teachers or take questions. So Michael’s letter asked Walker three questions that get to the heart of how destructive Walker’s administration has been for these last six years:
- Governor, you have repeatedly said that the state cannot afford to fund public education at 2010 levels. If so, how can the state afford to fund a second system of private voucher schools along with traditional neighborhood public schools?
- Why are we now funding pupils in private voucher schools, 75 percent of whom were previously attending private schools at no cost to the taxpayers?
- Governor, you repeatedly said that Act 10 is working, yet a recent study shows the number students entering teacher-training programs in Wisconsin has declined 28 percent. How can fewer young people wanting to be teachers be a success and good for children?
I am looking forward to seeing Michael among the dozens of delegates at the Region 6 Representative Assembly in Madison on May 20. The RA is the meeting where we find new ways to help each other as colleagues and professionals by setting the course for our organization. There is never a shortage of topics to discuss at this annual meeting, but I have a feeling we will find a way to work Michael’s letter in.
If you have questions about the Representative Assembly, Walker’s budget, or anything else, please email me or call the Region 6 office at 1-800-397-2287. You could ask the questions in a letter, but it’s even better to talk.
President of WEAC Region 6