Education funding slashed
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.