Defend Wisconsin News Round Up

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Defend Wisconsin News Round Up

Defend Wisconsin News Round Up

Are you been keeping up with the Wisconsin Budget as it relates to Education? If not---Do your self a favor! Get active because there is a definite degree of nonsense and misdirection by the Scott Walker Republicans. It is quite apparent that many GOP Representatives have no idea what Education is. 

Rep. Amy Loudenbeck's Commentary:

Guest commentary: Ensuring educational options
By Rep. Amy Loudenbeck | Posted: Monday, June 15, 2015 4:00 pm

I have received significant input on the 2015-2017 budget related to K-12 education. Ensuring quality educational options for all children is a priority for me and for Wisconsin.

One third of the state general fund is spent on K-12 education, our number one expenditure. 
I am pleased to report that the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) recently voted to modify the governor’s proposed education budget by investing nearly $200 million in additional funding over the 2015-2017 biennium.

THE JFC voted to level fund public schools in 2015-2016 and increase funding by $100 per pupil in 2016-2017 for all Wisconsin public school students.

This is in addition to the increases that were approved in the 2013-15 budget, when school districts received a $75 per pupil increase in year one and another $150 per pupil increase in year two. 

The committee also voted to increase educational opportunities for families by removing the cap for the statewide parental choice program. As has been proven by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau time and time again, the choice program allows for more aid per student to flow into the public school system because the cost per pupil in the choice program ($7,210 for K-8 and $7,856 for high school) is significantly below the state average of $11,071 per pupil in the public schools.
IT IS important to note that the choice program is available only to parents at or below 185% of the federal poverty level.

The JFC also made significant changes to responsibly limit the program after removal of the statewide cap. For example, starting with the next round of applications, the program is limited to prior year public school students, with the exception of entry points for kindergarten, first and eighth grade.

The program is also limited to 1% of pupils in a school district (with a 1% annual increase in future years). Furthermore, school districts can continue to count resident students for general aid and revenue limit purposes and retain those dollars, just as they are allowed to do under the widely-accepted open enrollment program.

THE BUDGET also includes the expansion of independent charter schools in Wisconsin.
Under this proposal, the proposed Madison Prep charter school, which is modeled on meeting the needs of low-income minority students, could be authorized by the UW System. Tribal colleges would also be allowed to authorize independent charter schools. Wisconsin’s Native American tribes highlighted their desire for charter schools that focus on preserving and revitalizing tribal languages and culture as a priority at the recent State of the Tribes Address. 

FINALLY, school accountability is incredibly important. That is why under the JFC budget proposal, all schools receiving public funding (choice, charter, public) will be graded using the same five-star report card system that accounts for students’ growth in reading and math skills, school poverty levels, and a school’s ability to close gaps in achievement among groups of students.  
Funding, flexibility, and accountability are essential elements of a successful educational system and this budget reflects these priorities.  

Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, represents Wisconsin’s 31st Assembly District which includes a portion of Beloit’s East Side. She serves on the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee and can be reached at or (888) 529-0031.

And this one is offered by Rep Deb Kolste: 
Rep. Debra Kolste: Budget proposal would severely damage public schools
By Rep. Debra Kolste June 5, 2015

The Legislature’s budget-writing committee has written a proposal that would cause massive damage to public schools; even more than the original plan proposed by Gov. Scott Walker.

Public education built this state. Access to public education has provided people from every economic stratum with a shot at the American Dream. Most Wisconsin residents love their local schools and want to preserve them.

Republicans on the Joint Committee on Finance removed the caps from the voucher program at the expense of public schools and created a new, expensive entitlement. Up to $800 million and maybe more will be shifted to private schools in the next decade. Voucher schools don’t produce better results. They take public money but don’t answer to the public.

The Republican plan diverts even more money for special-education vouchers. Private schools would take money for special-needs students but won’t have to provide programming or specialized teachers. The finance committee approved this proposal against the wishes of advocates for special-needs students.

Standards for public school teachers will decline. Bachelor’s degrees won’t be required for some, and others won’t need high school diplomas. Specific teacher training will not be required.

Knowledge of a subject does not necessarily qualify one to teach. Public school teachers learn classroom skills: organization, lesson planning, and how to engage students of varying ability, preparedness and motivation.

The plan also degrades academic standards. It awards graduation credit through demonstrating competency or “creating a learning portfolio.” Half of the credits for graduation could be earned this way. The competencies would be listed on the student’s transcript.

The effect will be to diminish the value of diplomas from Wisconsin high schools.

The plan opens athletic programs at public schools to home-schoolers or private school students. Home-schoolers can join the Janesville Craig football team under this scheme. Never mind academic standards at Craig or adherence to the athletic code. Only students who actually attend Craig will be subject to Craig’s standards and oversight.

The only valid purposes of school sports are to build character and bring school communities together. A teammate won’t necessarily be a classmate anymore.

The wholesale investment in private schools continues the establishment of parallel publicly funded educational systems. Separate but equal is never equal. Building a publicly funded private school system is wasteful and unnecessary.

Republicans have apparently designated public schools for nearly complete destruction. The sad remnant schools will accommodate students that private schools reject and will house expensive programs that private schools won’t have to provide.

The only conceivable motive for vandalizing public education is to create profits for private interests. The quality of education statewide will decline. The prospects for graduates of our high schools will decline. The economic outlook for our state will continue to decline.

Public schools have created a sense of community in cities and villages everywhere in Wisconsin. We are on the cusp of losing the value of those unifying institutions, along with the great opportunity that fine public schools provide for everyone.

Rep. Debra Kolste, D-Janesville, represents the 44th Assembly District. Contact her at P.O. Box 8952, Madison, WI 53708; phone 888-947-0044; email

My take on this is that there is only "One budget". As I read these two Commentaries over and over again I found myself understanding the problem education is facing in general and more specifically the cost to implement the GOP Plan....Like most recent Republican Plans it takes away local government decision making and creates responsibilities and expectations with Public Money for Public Schools and just gives away Public Tax Dollars to Private Education without any responsibilities or expectations.

The Commentary offered by Representative Loudenbeck is mostly a copy and paste job of bill highlights that have nothing to do with concerns of her district. This is totally disingenuous of a Representative or of the staff. She writes nothing about how it will impact her constituents. Representative Kolste makes it very clear how it will impact those she represents. Seriously, Representative Loudenbeck---You need a staff writer that has knowledge of your district that now comprises through nonsensical gerrymandering the following School Systems: Janesville, Beloit, Milton, Delavan, Walworth, and some may be in Lake Geneva. Perhaps you and your staff are unaware of the people you serve who live in Janesville, Milton, and Beloit. Or, perhaps you just don't care.

Representative Kolste responds to her constituents, has School Board and Commissioner experience and based upon these two Commentaries Representative Loudenbeck---you need to take a closer look at Education not to mention those who live in your district and whomever you assigned to write that Commentary----They need to return to school and write a Commentary; not just copy and paste a few passages from the ALEC Template and call it done.