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Apr 26, 201206:30 AMBlogging Blue

with Zach Wisniewski

Scott Walker’s “tools” aren’t working for Wisconsin’s school districts

Scott Walker’s “tools” aren’t working for Wisconsin’s school districts

According to Republican Gov. Scott Walker, the “tools” (really nothing more than a sledgehammer) that he dropped on Wisconsin in the form of Act 10 were supposed to make it easier for local governments and school districts to cut costs (another term for salary and benefits) to provide better services.

Apparently school districts across Wisconsin didn’t get the memo, as a statewide staffing report issued by the Department of Public Instruction based on the effects of the massive school budget cuts instituted by Scott Walker paints a grim picture for the state of Wisconsin’s education system.

  • Statewide, 311 of 424 school districts, or 73% of districts, reported cutting teachers this year.
  • Overall, public schools in Wisconsin are employing 1,446 fewer teachers this year than they did in the 2010-11 school year. This represents a 2.4% loss in full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching staff at a time when student enrollment is stable.
  • The largest cuts statewide were to school librarians and career and technical education, special education, and reading teachers. For the current school year, there are 414 fewer elementary teachers in public schools, which is a staffing cut of about 2% statewide.

What I’m wondering is how fewer teachers per student means that Scott Walker’s “tools” are working.

An open letter to Gov. Scott Walker pretty much sums up how I feel

An Open Letter to Governor Walker,

I have received your letter requesting funds for your recall election effort. Sadly, I am an employee of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. About a year or so ago my wages were cut due to increases in my health insurance premium. Since becoming an employee of the UW System in 1999, five percent of my pay has been withheld and automatically applied to the WRS fund for my retirement. However, around the same time as my insurance premiums nearly tripled, an additional five percent of my pay was taken from me and applied to the WRS fund. Mind you, my pay was not increased to replace what had previously been negotiated out of state employee paychecks and I now find myself taking home less in 2012 than I did in 2007.

With the prices of gas, milk, cereal and other things continually increasing, but my take-home pay continually decreasing, I simply do not have any money to contribute to your campaign coffers. However, I did notice that according to the 2011-2013 Compensation Plan, the Office of Governor received a pay increase. Please consider the portion of my state income tax that was applied to your pay increase as my contribution to your re-election effort.

Daniel M. Hoyt, Oshkosh

As a public employee, I’ve seen my take-home pay decrease over the past few years (whether thanks to Gov. Doyle’s furloughs or Gov. Walker’s overall assault on public employees), and I’m wondering exactly when Gov. Walker’s “tools” are going to start working for me and my family. As a parent, all I want is to provide my children with a middle-class upbringing, but thanks to the increased cost of living and my stagnating (or declining) take-home pay, that’s getting harder and harder to do.

Contrary to the meme that’s so popular among conservatives, the vast majority of public employees aren’t getting rich at the expense of taxpayers; they’re just trying to provide for their families.

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Old to new | New to old
Apr 26, 2012 02:12 pm
 Posted by  Mike M.

What do you think would have happened to the budget if employees didnt contribute to their benefits and pensions? Are the taxpayers of Wisconsin just suppose to keep shelling out more and more to pay teachers? The slow economy is effecting us all, why should they be insulated from that? If there has been a 2% cut overall in teachers statewide, I don think that is bad since I am sure all of us are feeling the bad economy alot more than that. I like how bloggers and opponents of Walker's ideas can bash his tactics but have no solutions themselves. I would love to hear what their ideas are....oh wait--we saw their ideas with Doyle. Taxes raised every year and a deficit. Yeah--that is a better option. I dont know where you get your facts but almost all of the school districts are running a surplus because of Walkers "tools." The ones that are not are those who signed union contracts before they could use his "tools." The quiet majority will show on recall election day. Gravy train for public employees is over.

Apr 26, 2012 06:15 pm
 Posted by  justthefacts

What do they say--figures don't lie, but liars figure
Why distort the facts? 43% of the school district cuts came from 3 districts-Milwaukee, Kenosha and Janesville--all of who were bullied into signing union contract extentions so that they could not use Act 10.
Even when the MPS teachers union wanted to re-negotiate their contract to save some of those teaching positions, they were contacted by the lady who is the union president of the Green Bay Teachers Union and told they better not because it would "look bad" for the recall efforts. They backed off--talk about letting the union do your thinking for you!! NOW--you tell me that was "all about the kids"--BALONEY!!

Its about the union leadership controlling public education in Wisconsin rather than allowing elected school boards, administrators and teachers do that. When we can keep teachers who are GOOD teachers verses those with the most tenure, when we hold school boards responsible for the quality of education in their district, and let them accomplish that by rewarding GREAT teachers, then Wisconsin will have the quality education systme our teachers can provide.

If teachers in Districts that are not under the thumb of union bullies want an instant pay increase--quit the union and put those dues monies in your own pocket. A "common sense solution".

Apr 27, 2012 12:46 pm
 Posted by  hopes4reason

@Mike M: You have posed a valid question, "Are the taxpayers in Wisconsin just suppose[d] to keep shelling out more and more to pay teachers?" My answer is that unless you expect teachers to continue to work without a raise, then of course we must pay more and more in taxes. Do you expect *any* worker to continue working without a raise? Why single out teachers? It's simple: public workers do their jobs, in part, so that the rest of us can do ours in a stable society. Educators are part of that system, building the workers and leaders of the future. Since the average teacher earns 4% less than a private sector worker *with the same level of education* (apples to apples, please), then I have no problem with teachers and/or their unions fighting to close that gap. When the economy is booming you don't see public outcry to give teachers "their fair share," but Walker's message was clear, that they should PAY "their fair share" when we are in recession, and now his laws insure they can never get more than cost of living raises, if that. Does that seem fair to you? I'd imagine that since you seem to believe all teachers are riding a "gravy train" that it seems GOOD to you, but it is clearly an inconsistent message.

@justthefacts: just playing devil's advocate here, but you alluded to "figures don't lie, but liars figure," then you immediately stated a figure to support your point. How are you differentiating yourself from the blogger, since both of you are supporting your points with figures?

Secondly, are you aware that in recent decades, under the teacher union system, WI has been among the leaders in education? Forward Wisconsin, a web site encouraging businesses to be in WI, has a great summary page—of note is that 16 of the last 17 years WI was either #1 or #2 in ACT college entrance scores. WI is also consistently in the tops for graduation rates. Your post seemed to suggest there is something wrong with our system, which doesn't match our performance.

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