Governor Walker’s 2017-2019 Budget bill passed the state Assembly yesterday and is expected to go to the state Senate for a vote tomorrow, September 15.
As it currently stands, the budget contains many harmful proposals for students, educators and public schools.
It is not too late to change the Budget and remove items that hurt students and public schools. Now is the time to contact your elected officials one more time.
Call your legislators at 800-362-9472 and tell them to vote NO on Gov. Walker’s 2017-19 Budget
What is Wrong with the governor’s budget?
Lowering Teaching Standards
The Budget creates a backdoor to lowering teaching standards by allowing initial teaching licenses to be granted to individuals certified by online licensing factories that refuse to meet minimum standards set by the Legislature and Department of Public Instruction. This opens the door to outfits such as the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, which operates in Florida, Arkansas and Tennessee, to name a few. The Board’s website promotes its program as a way to earn teacher certification in less than one year, without taking on debt or returning to school. Student teaching is not required as a basis of certification. Note: WEAC and the DPI strenuously objected to this provision, as Wisconsin has existing alternative pathways and also already recognizes out-of-state licenses. Read all the license provisions included in the budget.
Unfair Funding: Private Vouchers vs. Public Schools
The Budget proposes increased funding for K-12 public schools for the first time in six years in the areas of per-pupil funding and some categorical aids. However, the increases in this budget won’t restore the nearly $1 billion that has been cut. On top of that, the proposed budget calls for more state and local funding to be siphoned off for unaccountable private voucher schools. For instance, the income cap is raised from 125 to 220 percent of the federal poverty level, and boosts funding for special needs vouchers – essentially issuing a blank check for private schools that receive those subsidies.
Limiting Local Democracy: Referendum Restrictions
New restrictions on school referendum initiatives included in the budget would tie the hands of local school boards when it comes to raising funds to keep schools afloat for students. The provision:
- Limits school referenda for operating expenses outside of revenue caps or issue bonds to being held only on spring or fall primary and general election dates, or on the second Tuesday of November in odd-numbered years, beginning January 1, 2018;
- Restricts districts to holding referenda on two dates per year; and
- Establishes conditions for districts that experience natural disasters to seek additional funds to help in recovery.
We elect school boards to do what’s best for local students, and state politicians should not usurp their role.
Local Interference: Racine Unified Break-Apart Plan
A budget proposal masked in the name, “Opportunity Schools Partnership Program,” would allow the break-up of the Racine Unified School District, increasing segregation and eviscerating student opportunities. Under the plan, Racine Unified would have only one year to increase scores on state standardized tests, or the state would allow for neighboring villages to break away. The outcome would be disastrous, disrupting the tax base thereby weakening programs, athletics and extra-curricular activities. Soon, curriculum would suffer and, in time, infrastructure would disintegrate. The politically motivated maneuver is disingenuous, not at all designed to improve schools for all students. Instead, it creates another school district while at the same time Republicans are proposing incentives for other school districts to merge. Students deserve opportunities, not shattered schools.