Ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing slashed

Wisconsin Gazette - - Flashback: The Year’s Top Stories - By Louis Weis­berg Staff writer

Wis­con­sin has led the charge for un­prece­dented cuts in ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing, and since tak­ing of­fice in 2011, Walker has upped the ante.

Be­tween 2008 and 2016, Wis­con­sin cut state gen­eral fund­ing for K-12 schools by 12.7 per­cent. Only Ok­la­homa, Alabama and Ari­zona have made deeper cuts per stu­dents.

The cuts in re­cent years have been used by Repub­li­can lead­ers to hand out mas­sive tax cred­its to cor­po­ra­tions as well as tax cuts to the very wealthy.

At the same time they cut fi­nan­cial sup­port for pub­lic schools, Wis­con­sin law­mak­ers in the most re­cent bud­get shifted mil­lions of dol­lars to pri­vate schools with no ed­u­ca­tional stan­dards, leav­ing even less for pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion.

Lo­cal school dis­tricts are for­bid­den by state law to make up for the loss by rais­ing prop­erty taxes.

In 2015, Wis­con­sin also be­came one of the few states to cut higher-ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing. Walker, a col­lege dropout, slashed $250 mil­lion from the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin sys­tem in his lat­est bud­get, bring­ing his higher-ed­u­ca­tion cuts to $500 mil­lion since he took of­fice in 2011.

As a re­sult, Wis­con­sin stu­dents are grad­u­at­ing from col­lege with more debt than ever. When Walker took of­fice, they paid 40 per­cent of their col­lege ex­penses. With this year’s cuts, they now pay half.

In 2015, Walker also went af­ter fac­ulty ten­ure, prompt­ing fears that some of the state’s best aca­demics would seek jobs else­where. Pub­lic school teach­ers be­gan flee­ing the state in 2011, when Walker passed Act 10 — the in­fa­mous law that elim­i­nated bar­gain­ing pow­ers for state work­ers, in­clud­ing teach­ers. In 2015, many Wis­con­sin school dis­tricts com­plained they were un­able to fill po­si­tions — not only due to re­duced ben­e­fits and lack of job se­cu­rity, but also be­cause Repub­li­cans have so de­mo­nized school teach­ers that no one wants to join the pro­fes­sion.

The two largest schools of ed­u­ca­tion in Mil­wau­kee both re­ported un­prece­dented drops in stu­dents seek­ing teach­ing de­grees. En­roll­ment at the UW-Mil­wau­kee School of Ed­u­ca­tion dropped from 2,135 in 2010 to 1,516 in 2014. En­roll­ment in Mar­quette Univer­sity’s ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram dropped from 445 in 2010 to 385 in 2014.

Walker has of­ten ac­knowl­edged that he was a solid “C” stu­dent in school, lead­ing cyn­ics to won­der whether he’s con­sciously or un­con­sciously get­ting even with the sys­tem that branded him as av­er­age long be­fore Amer­ica’s Repub­li­can vot­ers did so.

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