I am an outspoken supporter of public education. I attended public schools, as did my children, where they received a great education. Unfortunately for everyone, Madison continues to vote against funding public education. On top of the almost $1 billion in cuts which have taken place since Governor Walker has taken over our state, they are poised to cut millions more over the next budget. Much of the funding that has been cut has been funneled to private schools--and most of them are in districts in southeastern Wisconsin, rather than in our own communities. Our tax dollars are paying for the children of others to attend private schools at the expense of public schools, and there is no documentation supporting better outcomes from those, largely unaccountable, private schools. There is no documentation supporting the idea that private schools do any better than public schools in educating our children. The Department of Public Instruction recently provided estimates of general aid for school districts for the upcoming year, and it isn’t good.
These estimates show that schools statewide will receive less state aid in the coming school year. Wisconsin has a complicated school funding formula that is difficult to understand. What is not hard to understand is the numbers involved—and what they tell us is that state aid for schools will decrease by just over $100,000, and many of the school districts in our area will be receiving up to $400,000 less than they did in the 2014-2015 school year.
At a time when there have been dramatic cuts in the state budget in K-12 education, as well as to our once-envied University system, vouchers are bleeding critical funding from school districts. Without considering the cost of charter and for-profit schools, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that voucher expansion over the next ten years will cost Wisconsin tax payers over $600 million.
In the Hayward school district, six years ago, state aid made up 20% of the district’s budget. That amount has been reduced to 3%, since the slash-and-burn legislature took over the state. In addition, our opponent has voted for a law that limits the number of times a district may use a referendum to fund schools. What they are doing is simply this—destroying public education in order to enrich the for-profit education industry. And we are paying for it.
Voucher schools in southern Wisconsin communities continue to see enormous increases in taxpayer funding, while our own schools are struggling to make due with less. The DPI estimates didn’t take into account the additional cuts that will be made due to the increased funding of voucher schools. I believe this problem will only get worse.
One of the reasons I am running for the Assembly is so that I can fight for you—for all of us—to bring back support of public schools that has been lost to reckless budget cuts. We need to change the funding formula and stop punishing our Northern schools. Our land. Our kids. Our future. Let me be our representative!