by Brian Washington
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Taxpayers are demonstrating what educators have known all along—that the general public has great confidence in their public schools.
The latest example of this confidence came last month in New York state, where voters approved 98 percent of the school budgets up for a vote. A survey by the State School Boards Association found 652 school districts witnessed voters approve their budgets. And out of the 645 districts that stayed within the state’s mandated property tax cap, 99.5 percent saw their budgets pass.
Karen E. Magee, an elementary education teacher who now serves as president of the New York State United Teachers, which represents educators all across the state, said the public’s overwhelming support comes as no surprise.
“New York’s public schools do a great job. Parents and community members know it, and that confidence in teachers and school staff led to another ringing endorsement of responsible school budgets that invest in students and programs, and help move public education forward.”
Another outstanding example of taxpayers showing support for neighborhood public schools comes from Wisconsin, where voters recently launched “Project 13.” Project 13 is designed to shed light on Wisconsin’s broken school funding system and Governor Scott Walker’s misguided priorities.
During his first term in office, Walker has implemented over $1 billion in cuts to public education, given huge tax cuts to the wealthy, and failed to deliver on his campaign promise of delivering 250,000 new jobs.
However, last year Walker used $100 million in unexpected revenues to provide property tax relief to homeowners under the current school funding formula. The move resulted in a meager $13 refund for the average homeowner.
That’s when voters launched Project 13 to encourage taxpayers to give the $13 property tax credit back to local schools. In Eau Claire, close to 50 people lined up outside a local school board meeting in April to donate their checks to the district, which has about 11,000 students. The town received more than 200 checks with contributions ranging from $13 to $50.
As local resident Steve Anderson explained in a letter to the editor of his local newspaper, the program has been a “rousing success.”
“People were asked to take what amounts to 25 cents per week or a little more than 3 cents a day—pocket change—and apply it for ‘real change’ in public education and to send a message that communities and the state should be ‘investing’ this money in our children,” wrote Anderson, who is calling upon other communities throughout the state to get involved and show their support for public schools as well.
Teachers and education support professionals are deeply committed to the success of every child. And now it’s time for communities to rally around their public schools and urge our elected officials to invest in the classroom priorities that build the foundation for student learning including:
- Early childhood learning opportunities
- Smaller class sizes to give educators more one-on-one time with students
- Up-to-date textbooks and computers; and
- Equal school funding.
Click here to get involved and find out how you help all students gain access to a quality public education.