Schools win after all
July 6, 2011
Opponents of the Walker budget worked overtime portraying education as the victim of cruel spending cuts. But whether you call education a winner or a loser under this budget depends on what you value more highly: delivering resources to the classroom or preserving the status quo for government unions.
Here are some facts about education and the Walker budget that shouldn’t be overlooked:
- The state will put more money into K-12 public schools than any other single category of expenditure in the entire two-year budget.
- Alongside the public schools receiving the top budget priority, educational opportunities are enhanced through expansion of Charter Schools and the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.
- A new choice program is established for Racine.
- Educational accountability will be enhanced through a new student information system (SIS) allowing real-time statewide data collection from schools on everything from course grades to attendance. This unified system will ease the burden in dollars and hours involved with having 424 separate school-district systems.
- School districts will now have the freedom to appropriately compensate and retain their best teachers.
The most important indicator of how education fares in the Walker budget is that even in the process of resolving a massive deficit, no area of state spending has been given a higher priority than the public schools.
Meanwhile, school districts themselves have been able to save more than $155 million so far, in new employee contracts that achieve the kind of concessions sought by the administration. The reforms helped the Kaukauna School District lower class sizes and increase it’s operating budget from $400,000 – $1.5 million.
With greater accountability, more freedom for school districts to manage their finances, and more opportunity for parents to be involved in the key decision of where their children go to school, this budget seeks to unleash the forces that will drive educational improvement across the board.