It has been a long, well-planned attack. In 1993, in an action against their own philosophy; i.e. decisions by government should be made at the lowest possible level, the Republican Governor and Legislature began actions to control local school boards. They passed Revenue Controls on school boards to limit how much they can increase taxes. This in itself caused harm by instructional materials and textbooks becoming out-dated. School Boards had to make choices between providing “current” materials and texts, or small class sizes to enable optimum learning. Eventually, the legislated revenue controls caused a double-whammy – out-dated texts & materials and an increase in class size, because of layoffs caused by the legislated revenue controls.
Next, the Governor & Legislature enabled vouchers so those who choose to send their children to private or religious schools can use “vouchers” which cause the public school, where the child could attend, to forfeit public/tax funds to pay for the child to attend the private or parochial school.
With revenue controls crippling the means to provide the best quality education and adequate financial reward for school district employees; and vouchers taking another big chunk, Wisconsin’s Governor and Legislature say of the schools that they have been starving to cause their failure, now, because of your failure, we will close your schools and convert them to for-profit private charter schools. This plan is to appease the Koch Brothers and others, who provide large sums to buy the elections of those promoting these privatization schemes.
Assembly Bill 1, in the 2015 Wisconsin legislative session, is designed just to do what is described above, and it is on the fast-track for approval, just as Act 10 was a few years ago. If it is not stopped, it will rip the heart out of every community – the pubic school will be gone, as will quality public education for all of Wisconsin’s children. The smaller the community, the bigger the harmful impact on Wisconsin’s towns and villages because of AB 1.
Madison spends about double the national average per student.
Madison Teachers, Inc. 26 January, 2015 newsletter can be found here (PDF).