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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