Governor Walker has instituted two disastrous provisions affecting public education. I am confidant that if parents and grandparents knew the short and long term consequences of these actions that they will join the recall effort in mass.
The first disastrous action is the huge cuts in educational funding. The consequences of this act are already felt. School districts last year and this have been forced to lay-off teachers and other needed staff and to cut valuable programs. To add insult to injury Governor Walker gave money needed by our public schools to Milwaukee charter schools. We should ask why. The overall achievement results of these schools have been substandard when compared to our public schools. Is his long-term plan to privatize public education? That is what the Koch brothers and ALEC, which the millionaire brothers help to fund, want. Our public schools cannot do the job for our state’s children if they are UNDERFUNDED.
The second disastrous action of the Governor was eliminating the bargaining rights of school employees. I heard about one school in our area that was going to start cleaning classrooms every other day. As a former teacher and elementary principal, I can tell you that this plan does not create a healthy learning or teaching environment. Some other schools are contracting out their janitorial services. This is really dangerous. Before school employees are hired, they go through a criminal background check. Contracting out custodial services could bring someone whom you might not want working around children in your schools. School employees have also lost seniority rights. For teachers that means in tough economic times that the expensive ones, who have made a commitment to the community and to our students by acquiring advanced training and degrees and getting re-certified periodically by returning to college to take additional courses at their own expense, are apt to be laid off, while the cheaper, younger, less experienced teachers are retained. In the debate last Friday Governor Walker talked about a school’s Teacher of the Year being laid off because she did not have seniority and more experienced teachers not being laid off. He failed to realize that many of those experienced teachers in previous years had also been chosen by the staff to represent the school as Teachers of the Year.
Without seniority protection, teachers will probably not have the incentive to invest their own money in getting advanced training and master’s degrees. Many of the new salary schedules do not allow them to recoup eventually the money that they have to spend. This will be a great lost to our students because teachers will not be as prepared as the teachers in the past if the Walker Era continues.
Wisconsin has had a reputation of providing quality educational opportunities . I think that Governor Walker has drastically hurt K-12 public education throughout our state because he did not like the fact that the state teacher unions did not back him. For our children and grandchildren, we have to correct his misdirected actions by voting him out of office on Tuesday, June 5.
Dwight Logan, Minocqua