By: Adam Farrell-Wortman
Scott Walker has launched a multi-million dollar ad campaign in the hopes that he can convince parents and teachers that his $2.6 billion cuts to public education – the largest in Wisconsin history – are leading to successes. But parents can see the growing class sizes, the shrinking staff and the deteriorating schools. The teachers who are lucky enough not to get pink slips this year know full well that they and their colleagues will face additional layoffs next year. Teachers also know that they will pay more for fewer benefits, while their workloads and class sizes are increased. No matter how much money Scott Walker spends on commercials, local school districts know that they will feel the pain of Walker’s assault on public education for years to come.
While Scott Walker makes his absurd claims that he is saving teaching jobs and getting more money into the classroom, teachers will be getting layoff notices and school districts will see their per pupil funds reduced by 5.5%. According to the Lakeland Times, for places like Lakeland Union High School that translates into $728.24 less per student. LUHS officials also reported that even though they’ve cut salaries and reduced benefits their expenditures are still rising, while their budget is shrinking.
The Janesville Gazette reports that the Janesville School District is considering a plan to layoff five full-time teachers. This will increase classroom sizes in high school and create larger special education case loads. However, they are facing an $8-10 million budget deficit, so these cuts are just the tip of the iceberg.
In Menomonee Falls, preliminary layoff notices are being mailed out to 60 teachers, with the expectation that between seven and ten positions will be eliminated. After weeks, if not months, of uncertainty as the district’s budget is finalized and cuts are made, those that ultimately get to keep their job this year will see their benefits reduced, while the out-of-paycheck contribution is raised. According to Superintendent Patricia Greco, teachers can look forward to more layoffs next year and further budget cuts.
The above examples reflect the poor state of affairs in Wisconsin. Scott Walker’s $2.6 billion destruction of public education does not simply translate into fewer teachers, fewer support staff and larger class sizes. It also means our schools will not have the tools to educate and prepare students for a 21st century economy. It means schools won’t have money for building repair, let alone the needed retrofitting to accommodate new technology or the ability to buy new technology. It means our state will be less attractive to job creators looking to relocate to Wisconsin. The actual, real world effects of Walker’s budget are just getting started and if left unchecked Wisconsin’s public education system will be left in ruins.
Scott Walker can keep spending his sleazy corporate millions on misleading commercials, but parents know the truth, teachers know the truth and no advertisement is going to convince them that Scott Walker’s annihilation of Wisconsin’s public education system is working.