By Amanda Litvinov / photo courtesy of WEAC
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has taken to calling himself a “pro-education governor”—a laughable claim to educators in the state.
Here are just a few reasons to question Walker’s commitment to education:
- During Gov. Walker’s first five years, he cut state funding for K-12 schools by $1.2 billion. It was a devastating blow to the state’s public schools.
- Walker has worked hard to expand the state’s voucher program. Like Betsy DeVos, Gov. Walker supports diverting scarce public school funding to private schools through such schemes. Vouchers have not been shown to significantly improve student performance, but they have been shown to undermine student civil rights.
- Under Walker, public university funding was slashed by $250 million
- Walker stripped educators and other public workers of collective bargaining rights, despite public outcry. Unions bargain for better working conditions for educators, as well as students’ learning conditions.
Walker’s record could not be more dismal on education. Standing in sharp contrast is his opponent, a proven champion of public education.
Dr. Tony Evers has decades of experience in public education, serving first as a classroom teacher, then as principal and the state superintendent of public instruction. Here are his plans and priorities:
- Evers’ budget plan increases public school funding by $1.4 billion. It restores the state’s commitment to covering two-thirds of public education funding, and increases the state’s share of special education funding to 60 percent.
- Evers will freeze the school voucher program as a first step toward its eventual phase-out.
- He strongly supports: community schools that help meet the needs of students and families in the local community; expanding mental health services; increased funding for education support professionals.
- Evers plans to place in statute requirements for teacher voice to be part of all education-related decision and policy-making initiatives.
“We – and I – have been waiting for this day for a long, long time,” Evers said at an election rally in September. “We’re going to take back control of our schools.”
Evers earned the recommendation of the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), the state’s largest educator union. Members like Kay Hansen, a special needs paraeducator and WEAC member, are highly enthusiastic about the upcoming election.
“As a special education paraprofessional in a rural, northeastern Wisconsin school, I see firsthand how Scott Walker’s huge cuts to public schools have hurt my most vulnerable students,” said Hansen.
“Dr. Evers, on the other hand, is a teacher himself and has vowed to restore state funding for my special education students.”
Evers listens to the concerns of educators like Hansen for their students and their profession.
“Our educators are on the front lines of these challenges, so when they speak up about bad education policy, deteriorating schools, or the massive teacher exodus we’re facing, they’re doing right by our kids,” said Evers at a gathering of WEAC educators in September.
“They’re reminding us that education—like democracy—doesn’t come for free. It must be nurtured, sustained, and invested in over time.”