Tomorrow night at 7 p.m. Gov. Scott Walker will give his state of the state address speech for 2013. Certainly, he and I won't agree when it comes to public schools.
We might agree that the new report cards and the new cut scores will turn out to be a good thing for students across the state.
But, he'll likely push to divert even more tax money from public schools to fund entirely unaccountable religious and private schools through the voucher program, in which kids often perform at levels lower than Milwaukee Public Schools and far below the state average.
And he'll certainly argue that Act 10 has worked for public schools around the state, though I've yet to find an educator or school-level administrator in Wisconsin who agrees. Unsurprisingly, political organizations of every stripe have been able to massage the numbers to support their positions on the results of Act 10, with our kids serving as the monkeys in the middle.
What I have seen as I visit Milwaukee Public Schools and talk to teachers and principals at other schools in the state is that Walker's current biennial budget, which cut nearly a billion dollars from public schools in Wisconsin, has squeezed staffs.
More than 3,400 teachers and other staffers have been cut. There are fewer and fewer adults in schools these days in Wisconsin. Consider that the next time you ponder school safety issues.
MPS is facing a massive teacher crisis as record numbers of retirements loom. Class sizes have gone up as more money has been skimmed away from the majority of kids in public schools to help prop up religious schools, which all around the country have struggled with falling enrollment.
SAGE schools like the successful Milwaukee French Immersion saw some class sizes double as they could no longer afford to take part in the program.
MPS' special needs population is now about 20% of enrollment, up from about 17% a few years ago. Meanwhile, the number of students with IEPs in voucher schools is about 1.6% percent, according to Disability Rights Wisconsin. Additionally, this year, roughly 3,500 MPS students are homeless.
Two years ago, Walker said there was a deficit and cuts had to be made. Those of us with kids in public schools, especially in Milwaukee, understood why he would make our children pay. We know how politics works.
But now, the state apparently has a surplus of $300 million. So, how much of that will go to our schools? And I don't mean schools run by millionaire sports stars or California chains or tax-exempt churches. How much will go to the schools that educate the poorest in the state – not just a handful of them, but the bulk of them? That educate children with disabilities and special needs?
My hope is $300 million. My guess, however, is that he will cut public education even more deeply, and send even more money to church and private schools to help undermine the long-standing American tradition of public education in favor of privatization. Because as history has shown, big business has clearly got our children's best interests at heart.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Bobby Tanzilo
Published July 25, 2015
One of the Milwaukee area's most interesting parks is a bit off the beaten path, but it's worth making tracks to Lizard Mound County Park in Farmington, just north of West Bend in Washington County. A wooded path twists and turns through 28 Native American effigy mounds, including the one shaped like a huge lizard which gives the park its name.
Published July 24, 2015
Green Lake is a place of superlatives. Here are eight of the many reasons to fall in love with Green Lake, which is an easy 90-minute drive from Milwaukee.
Published July 24, 2015
What a long strange trip it was. While theaters like the Downer and Oriental have venerable histories as long-running cinema houses, consider, if you will, the the more varied history of the now-dilapidated State Theater, 2616 W. State St. Originally a movie theater, the State has served a number of purposes - rock venue, prudish dance hall and strip club - in its nearly 100-year history.
Published July 22, 2015
There were about 500 people on hand to watch U2 at The Palms on April 15, 1981. The show was part of the Irish band's first U.S. tour. Here's a look back...
Published July 21, 2015
Come with me to see the progress on the restoration of The Pabst Mansion's third floor and also peek into the basement and attic, and experience the view from the roof of this Milwaukee landmark.
Published July 17, 2015
Milwaukee neighborhoods were once awash in movie theaters, as hard as that may be to imagine these days when you can count the number of non-googleplex cinemas in the city limits on one hand. While many are lost, a few remain. At 3804 W. Vliet St. is a former longtime carpet store that's been closed the past few years. But, originally, the building was home to The Lyric Theater, which operated from 1917 to 1952.
Published July 14, 2015
In 2012, I toured the surviving Alexander Eschweiler-designed Agricultural College buildings on the County Grounds, when their roofs gaped open to the stars - and the elements - and weeds encircled their exteriors. Despite talk of tearing them down, and an ongoing battle to save them from demolition, four of the buildings survive, even as six new apartment buildings are rising around them.
Published July 14, 2015
The WMA managed to get an alternative teacher-licensing track included in the omnibus that allows graduates from a program accredited by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education, (MACTE) to apply for a Wisconsin state teaching license to teach in a public or charter Montessori school.
Published July 13, 2015
Last week, Milwaukee lost a talented, dedicated, hard-working historian. But when former Italian Community Center president Mario Carini died on July 7, at the age of 78, Milwaukee's Italian community lost a force of nature.
Published July 12, 2015
After nearly 30 years in its current home and 65 within eyesight of it, National Ace Hardware, 1303 N. 4th St., is closing. The building - put up for sale in 2013 - was sold to a developer on Wednesday and a plan for its redevelopment is expected to be announced this week. Meanwhile, National co-owners, brothers Bill and David Rotter, will work to liquidate the current space, which must be vacated by mid-November.