Inclusive education for the common good is guaranteed under Wisconsin’s Constitution.
“The legislature shall provide by law for the establishment of district schools, which shall be as nearly uniform as practicable; and such schools shall be free and without charge for tuition to all children between the ages of 4 and 20 years; and no sectarian instruction shall be allowed therein.” (Wisconsin Constitution Article X Section 3)
Nowhere in Wisconsin’s Constitution does it grant legislators authority to:
-Label our children as failures because they cannot pass a rigorous, timed standardized test and then threaten to close their public school. To put this responsibility on the shoulders of our children is immoral. Children are children–not robots that can be programmed. Overwhelmingly, research shows that poverty is the main reason children struggle in school. Over 1,300,000 children in Wisconsin live in poverty. It is the failure of elected officials who have not addressed the issues of poverty that is a disgrace.
-Label our community public schools as failures, close them, and replace them with privately run charter schools. Our community “district” schools are the heart and soul of our communities and have served the students of Wisconsin for over 150 years. Our community schools have been built and maintained by all of us with our taxpayer dollars. It is the community who supports all activities in our “district” schools.
Set up a competing private/religious school system paid for by us, the Wisconsin taxpayer. This second private school system is designed to be exclusionary. Seventy-five percent of students who receive a voucher from the state were already enrolled in the private/religious school. Now we, the taxpayers, are subsidizing the private/religious education of over 26,000 students.
The cost to taxpayers to subsidize this private/religious school system in 2014-2015 is $7.4 million.
-Divert our tax money meant for the public “district” schools to private/religious taxpayer subsidized voucher schools. Over the past 23 years, school vouchers have cost Wisconsin taxpayers $1.4 billion.
These proposals and many more are included in Senate Bill 1 and Assembly Bill 1.
Republicans who control all branches of government in Wisconsin have received millions of dollars from the Koch brothers group Americans for Prosperity, American Federation for Children, and others with the ultimate goal to defund and destroy our community “district” schools.
“We advocate the complete separation of education and government. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.” (Libertarian party platform of 1980, with David Koch running as vice president.)
Will our legislators abide by Wisconsin’s Constitution or will they do the bidding of their funders and continue the destructive process which began in 2011 to defund, close, and privatize our community “district” schools?
Joyce Luedke, Wausau