Archives for category: Walker, Scott

I posted a strong endorsement of Kelda Roys. She is a candidate in the Democratic candidate for Governor of Wisconsin. The leading candidate in the race is Tony Evers, who is currently State Superintendent of Education. Some people think that he would be a strong supporter of education. But, in fact, he has made teachers’ lives worse during his tenure in office. Teachers are deeply demoralized by the combination of Governor Walker and State Chief Evers’ policies.

Read what Tim Slekar wrote about Tony Evers’ record on education. It is very bad, almost as bad as Scott Walker.

From dean of education at Edgewood College and strong public education advocate Tim Slekar.

“Tony Evers has “name recognition.” He can beat Walker. Except…

I know that’s the “theory.” But on his own issue—education—there are serious problems. For me specifically (as dean of a school of education) his Leadership Group’s dismantling and deregulating of teaching licenses because of a refusal to understand the cause of the “teacher shortage” tells me that using sound research to make policy decisions will take a back seat to neoliberal market solutions that actually cause more damage.

Teachers are leaving the profession in droves. Making it easier to enter our classrooms as a “teacher” does nothing to stop the exodus. It actually adds to it by further demoralizing the teachers that are still teaching. And that’s the real reason teachers are leaving. They are demoralized.

Excessive testing, educator effectiveness bunk, continued accountability (reform word for teachers are to blame for the achievement gap), expansion of non-public charter schools, and a top down system that denies teachers professional autonomy. And a Broad Academy Fellow (Privatization) as second in command. These are all issues DPI have significant control over but for some reason remain silent or worse supportive of.

And the candidate to take on Walker will not win without the support of the teaching profession. Assuming teachers will support Tony is rejecting their moral compass. They know Walker is horrible but they are also quite aware of the fact that DPI has left them hanging.

Give me a candidate that understands “demoralization.” That candidate will fire up education voters.”

Tim Slekar is supporting Kelda Roys for the Democratic nomination for Governor. I hope you will too!

Here is the voice of a genuine progressive.

Kelda Roys is running for the Democratic nomination for Governor so she can run against Scott Walker.

The primary is August 14.

She released this letter to teachers.

She really gets it. She speaks to the hearts and minds of all who have suffered the insufferable Walker, who has walked all over teachers, students, and public schools. He has bulldozed the Wisconsin Idea.

Wisconsin needs Kelda Roys.

She writes:


This is a message of hope. A promise to you of what kind of governor I will be, and a heartfelt statement to demonstrate that I hear what you’ve been saying and empathize with what you’ve been experiencing.

Throughout the past eight years, you, your pocketbook, and your profession have been under attack.

You are constantly asked to “do more with less” as a result of the historic budget cuts to your classrooms. Without proper funding, the schools you work in, especially in rural communities, continue to close. You are often forced to “‘teach for the test” as opposed to engaging young minds in the joy of learning and helping develop students’ whole selves. Your class sizes are going up, but your professional autonomy is being ratcheted down.

As a result of Act 10, your collective bargaining rights were eliminated, compensation reduced, and work devalued. Your median salaries have continued to fall: as of the 2015-26 school year, your average pay was more than $10,000 lower than it was before the passage of Act 10. The policies of the Walker administration have done serious harm to Wisconsin’s once-great public education system. A record number of your colleagues have left the profession altogether.

In the numbers-driven, high-stakes testing approach that many school districts are taking, your autonomy is lost. This is bad for you and even worse for students. In the ever-expanding push for “accountability,” teachers are too often punished — never administrators, or politicians who fail to remedy the social and economic injustice that follows students into the classroom. Rather than addressing the teacher retention and pipeline problem by increasing pay and restoring joy to the profession, Walker and the DPI are undermining teacher qualifications by enabling fast-track “alternative” licensing for people without teaching degrees. And the expansion of privatization, from the voucher programs to so-called “independent” charters, steals resources away from our public schools and the kids you serve. It’s no wonder so many teachers feel demoralized and are leaving — your ability to practice the profession you love and teach your students is constantly questioned, challenged, and denied by the very people who should be supporting you.

Despite all this, I am asking you to not to leave.

As a small-business owner, as a mother, and as a proud graduate of Wisconsin’s public schools, I know how critical you are to our state and our future. To attract and retain the best teachers, Wisconsin must become a better state in which to be a teacher — we must invest in public schools and educators.

As governor, I pledge I will do everything in my power to restore the funding our schools deserve, the rights, wages, and benefits you lost, and the autonomy and respect you deserve.

Tom Ultican reviews here how school choice has devastated (DeVos-tated?) the public schools of Milwaukee.

Milwaukee is the city with public schools, charter schools, and voucher schools. It is also one of the lowest performing urban districts tested by NAEP.

He begins:

This past school year, Wisconsin taxpayers sent $250,000,000 to religious schools. Catholics received the largest slice, but protestants, evangelicals and Jews got their cuts. Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction (DPI) reveals that private Islamic schools took in $6,350,000. Of the 212 schools collecting voucher money, 197 were religious schools.

The Wisconsin voucher program was expanded before the 2014-2015 school year. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, “Seventy-five percent of eligible students who applied for taxpayer-funded subsidies to attend private and religious schools this fall in the statewide voucher program already attend private schools, ….”

Money taken from the public schools attended by the vast majority of Milwaukee’s students is sent to private religious schools. Public schools must adjust for stranded costs while paying to serve a higher percentage of special education students because private schools won’t take them. Forcing public schools to increase class sizes, reduce offerings such as music and lay off staff.

The public schools have a disproportionate number of students with disabilities, because the charter schools and voucher schools don’t want them.

Ultican recounts the history of charters and vouchers in Milwaukee and Wisconsin. He reminds us that charter schools are NOT public schools. They are privately managed organizations draining money from public schools.

And he concludes:

In the Zelman v. Simmons-Harris case, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that vouchers to religious school did not violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. This decision re-wrote more than a century worth of precedence and further eroded the separation of church and state. No matter how this case was decided, it is patently un-American to force citizens to send money to religious organizations that they do not support.

Privatizing public education is a horrible idea. Public-schools are the bedrock upon which America’s democracy is built. Now strange conservatives and their fellow traveler in the Democratic party, the neoliberals, are claiming that democratically elected school boards are an anachronism. Know this; if someone is opposing democratic governance, they are proposing totalitarian rule by the wealthy.

Jennifer Berkshire writes here of the encouraging signs of a strong grassroots movement to save public schools in Wisconsin, despite the best efforts of Governor Scott Walker and the Republican Legislature to crush the teachers’ union and to offer school choice, both charters and vouchers.

She begins:

“It would be easy to write the story of Wisconsin’s current union landscape as a tragedy. In this version of events, the bomb that Governor Scott Walker and his allies dropped on the state’s public sector unions has worked just as intended: The ranks of the unions have thinned; their coffers are depleted; their influence over the state and its legislative priorities has been reduced to where, in 2017, the state teachers’ union no longer employed a lobbyist at the statehouse.

“All of this is true.

“But there is another, more hopeful story to be told about Wisconsin, seven years after Walker officially kicked off his war on labor. It involves parents and teachers and local grassroots activists coming together to fight for the public schools in their communities. While Walker and the Republicans who control Wisconsin’s legislature got their way in 2011, there is a robust ongoing debate, throughout the state, about the role of public education and who should pay for it.

“Just as in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Colorado, states roiled by teacher and parent uprisings this spring, school funding has emerged as a flashpoint in Wisconsin. In the place where the modern era of scorched-earth-style state politics began, local activism around public education may just transform Wisconsin’s political culture.”

She identifies groups that are working in a nonpartisan way to increase school funding, to offset the dramatic tax cuts that ravaged their public schools.

State leadership has a simple ethos: “Privatize everything.”

By contrast, parents and teachers are mobilizing to keep their schools funded.

“Today, the Wisconsin Public Education Network is at the forefront of a statewide effort to support Wisconsin’s public schools and the 860,000 students who attend them. DuBois Bourenane and a small army of parents, teachers, school officials, and ordinary citizens are shining a relentless spotlight on the $2 billion in cuts made to the schools here by Walker and the GOP-led legislature, and demanding a fix to Wisconsin’s deeply inequitable school funding system.”

She identifies other groups that have formed to defend students and public schools.

One of the biggest drains on the state education budget is vouchers. Advocates have pushed the idea of breaking out the costs of vouchers so taxpayers can see clearly what vouchers cost them. In Milwaukee alone, where 32,000 students use vouchers, the cost was $269 Million in the last year alone. (Voucher students do not get better results than those in public schools).

Ironically, Gov. Walker is running again as “the education governor,” despite the fact that school funding is less now than a decade ago.

Stop laughing. Stop choking. Scott Walker plans to run for his third term on his record on education.

Is this what the Koch brothers told him to do?

“Walker’s signature achievement in the realm of education is Act 10. Walker likes to call the 2011 proposal of this bill “dropping the bomb,” and that’s a fair characterization. The bill shifted pension and health insurance costs to teachers. It took a shot at undermining Wisconsin’s flagship university. And most notably, it stripped public employees of the right to collectively bargain, while also doing away with any sort of job protections– teachers would only be contracted one year at a time. Then in 2012 he took a machete to school funding, only so that five years later he could offer some money back to school districts– but only if they could prove that they had used Act 10 to cut teacher pay. It was a clever way to force the hand of districts that were still trying to do the right thing, what we might call “a dick move.” Meanwhile, his legislature has been working hard to stop throwing money at public schools and start throwing it at vouchers and charters.

“Act 10 was supposed to make the Wisconsin economy boom. It didn’t– Wisconsin’s growth was low for the region. It was supposed to beat down the union. It did do that a bit. It was supposed to turn teaching into a buyer’s market, where no job was secure and the cost of labor was kept low. It did that, too. And it was meant to transform the teacher “workforce” into a group of young temps who would not stick around long enough to rock the boat or threaten the piggy bank. That seems to be working. And while this may not have been an intended result, Wisconsin is also facing “historic teacher shortages.” The pipeline is drying up. It’s almost as if something has made teaching a far less appealing profession than it used to be.”

And yet Walker plans to run on his abominable education record.

This guy should be voted out. ASAP. Without delay.

Wake up, Wisconsin. Reclaim your proud tradition of progressivism and retire the blockheads who control your state.

 

An article in the Daily Beast asks the question that is the title of this post.

Another question: Where was President Obama and Secretary Arne Duncan when Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker stripped away collective bargaining, and union members encircled the State Capitol in protest? Answer: absent.

They did, however, find time in March 2011 to fly to Miami to join Jeb Bush in celebrating a “turnaround school” whose staff had been replaced. (A month later, the same high school was listed by the state as a “failing school” slated for closure, but the national media had moved on.)

 

Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker and the state legislature expanded the voucher program despite its failure in Milwaukee. To zealots, evidence doesn’t matter. In some small communities, the voucher money is subtracted from the local public school to subsidize students already enrolled in religious schools. The many will see their education impoverished to subsidize those who never attended public schools. Others are fearful that the fabric of community life will be injured by this diversion of public dollars and civic support to private schools.  Walker is a favorite of the Koch brothers, which may explain his eagerness to destroy public schools. The Koch’s backed him as a candidate for president in 2016, but he didn’t last long. His love of vouchers is destabilizing communities across the state.

 

“When Superintendent Sue Kaphingst moved to Chilton less than a year ago, she marveled at how the northeastern Wisconsin community rallied around its local school district.

“Nestled to the east of Lake Winnebago about 75 miles north of Milwaukee, Chilton and its 3,900 residents felt cohesive. Football stars acted in the high school musical. Parents, students and school board members created a yarn art installation on the Chilton Middle School lawn to demonstrate that they were all connected. The high school theater was built with millions from a local family who owned pet supplies company Kaytee Products.

“But there’s a new development here and in other communities across Wisconsin that will test those ties: school vouchers. Four years after the GOP-led Legislature approved a statewide voucher program, the number of private schools registered to receive taxpayer-funded tuition subsidies has sharply increased. Together with the longstanding Milwaukee voucher program and the more recent Racine voucher program, close to 300 private, predominantly religious schools from Lake Superior to the Illinois border are poised to receive taxpayer funding for an estimated 33,750 students this fall, according to Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget.“For the first time, the Chilton School District could face either an enrollment drop because children will use a voucher to attend the local Catholic school they couldn’t otherwise afford, or more likely, the district will have to raise taxes to fund vouchers for children who already attend the private school.

“Together, the state’s voucher programs are expected to cost about $263 million in 2017-’18, according to Walker’s budget proposal.

“While President Donald Trump is pitching to boost federal spending on school choice programs by $1.4 billion — a down payment on his promise of $20 billion — Wisconsin is already demonstrating the complexities of expanding private-school choice to exurban America. Now that private schools outside of densely populated Milwaukee and Racine can tap into voucher funding, new tensions are bubbling up between religious conservatives eager to offer more students a religious-based education and district advocates who fear losing resources to private schools now competing for the same pot of public dollars.

“There’s only so much money,” said Kaphingst, the Chilton superintendent. “You’re taking from one for the other.”

David Madland and Alex Rowell of the Center for American Progress reviewed the impact on education of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s infamous Act 10, enacted in 2011, which crushed unions.

Some teachers left the profession or the state. Salaries and benefits declined. The average age and experience of teachers declined. Teachers moved from district to district, seeking higher pay.

They wrote:

“Six years ago, the state of Wisconsin passed the highly controversial 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, which virtually eliminated collective bargaining rights for most public-sector workers, as well as slashed those workers’ benefits, among other changes. These attacks on public-sector workers are spreading throughout the country. Iowa recently passed an Act 10-inspired law with similar policies affecting public-sector workers and their unions.1 Other states and members of Congress are considering enacting such policies, and with its ruling on Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the U.S. Supreme Court may act to weaken public-sector unions and teachers’ ability to collectively bargain.

“This issue brief examines the impact of the law on Wisconsin’s K-12 public education system and state economy. While this brief focuses on Act 10’s impact on Wisconsin teachers based on the data available, the same forces driving changes in the teaching workforce can also affect the broader public sector. Proponents of Act 10 insisted that reducing collective bargaining rights for teachers would improve education by eliminating job protections such as tenure and seniority-based salary increases. As Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) argued, “We no longer have seniority or tenure. That means we can hire and fire based on merit, we can pay based on performance. That means we can put the best and the brightest in our classrooms and we can pay them to be there.” However, the facts suggest that Act 10 has not had its promised positive impact on educational quality in the state.”

Teachers have lower pay, lower pension and health insurance benefits. There is more turnover as teachers move from one district to another seeking higher pay. Act 10 had its intended effect of smashing unions, which represented 14.1% of workers in 2011, but only 9% now.

What kind of country thinks the way to get better teachers is to cut their pay and benefits?

Scott Walker is a puppet of the Koch brothers. His vision of the future is mean and stupid.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a lackey of the Koch brothers and ALEC, is always on the lookout for new ways to undermine the teaching profession.

Tim Slekar reports that he found a clever new way to deprofessionalize teachers.

The legislature just approved fast track certification (lowered standards) and “lifetime licenses” for those already teaching and after 3 years of teaching service for new teachers.

Slekar writes:

Do teachers really think a “lifetime license” was included in the Walker budget to actually help teachers? Seriously. This Act 10 Walker? This is the guy who maligned teachers for having a job with health care and retirement benefits. Why would he all of sudden do something positive for teachers?

He hasn’t! A ‘lifetime license” is just the newest way to promote a lifetime of low wages and a diminished professional status.

Back in the day, he notes, teachers had collective bargaining and a strong union to protect their profession, but Walker got rid of that with Act 10.

Now all they have to do to get a “lifetime license” is to ask for it.

Something is rotten in Denmark and in Madison. What Walker really wants is to lock teachers into a low-wage job.

Scott Walker joins the Wall of Shame, a dishonor he richly deserves for his continued efforts to destroy public schools and the teaching profession.

Tony Evers, the State Superintendent of Instruction in Wisconsin, has announced that he will run against Scott Walker for governor. Walker is a puppet of the Koch brothers who achieved national notoriety for breaking the state teachers’ union in 2011 and for advocating for charter schools and vouchers. Despite the poor performance of vouchers in Milwaukee, which adopted them in 1990–Walker expanded them.


Tony Evers, Wisconsin’s state superintendent of public instruction announced on Wednesday, August 23 that he plans to run for governor against Scott Walker. In his speech declaring his candidacy, he promised to invest in children, public schools, and the middle class, and declared that he will heal the political divide exploited by Scott Walker and Donald Trump.

“Make no mistake—Donald Trump is using the same playbook Scott Walker has been using in Wisconsin for years to create divisions and pit people against each other,” Evers said in his announcement speech to about seventy-five people at McKee Farms Kids Crossing Dream Park in Fitchburg, Wisconsin.

The setting for his announcement was symbolic of the values Evers’s candidacy represents, he said: a public park where kids of all backgrounds come to play together: “It’s democracy for little kids—I love it.”

“We must be clear: Trump and Walker are not the symptom of our divisions,” Evers added. “They are the cause.”

Evers is optimistic that voters will respond to a better, more community-minded vision if one is presented to them.

He points out that on the same day Wisconsin voted for Trump, majorities in local school districts all over the state (including in Republican areas) voted to raise property taxes on themselves to support their local public schools.

“On the morning of November 9, when you looked at the results of referendum after referendum, they told a completely different story from the election of Donald Trump,” he noted in an interview with The Progressive.

He made a similar point in his speech: “Scott Walker’s policies have forced almost a million people to raise their own taxes in the last three elections. And these are local people—Democrats, independents, and Republicans.”

That’s important because it shows, in Evers’s view, that when it comes to issues where people feel they have a direct stake in their communities—like maintaining their local public schools—voters do not support the Republican slash-and-burn agenda. As Evers puts it, “Local communities get it. Walker doesn’t get it.

Evers himself has won statewide election three times with big majorities, while fighting Walker’s budget cuts and efforts to expand school vouchers, which further drain resources from public schools. In the last election he won 70 percent of the vote and carried 70 of 72 counties.

His candidacy is all about the core issue of defending public education as an engine of democracy and equal opportunity—an issue that has been at the center of Wisconsin politics throughout the Walker era.