Tuesday, April 19, 2011

UW Madison School of Education statement about the budget

The following statement was issued by the UW-Madison School of
Education's Administrative Council to Wisconsin's education community
on Thursday, April 14:

The UW-Madison School of Education faculty and staff profoundly
respect and admire our Wisconsin teachers, and empathize with them as
their profession and schools face seemingly insurmountable challenges
with the proposed state budget.

Wisconsin's high quality teaching force sends well-prepared and
talented students to UW-Madison. The campus and the School of
Education benefit directly from the wonderful work that K-12 educators
do with the children who end up being our students.

The budget proposal will cause irreparable damage to K-12 education in
Wisconsin, and will ultimately hurt our children. We cannot ask
schools to do more with less while expecting the same results. This
proposal also has the potential to shatter relationships among
educators, school administrators and Boards, and to undermine the
quality of education across the state.

The Governor's Executive Budget calls for a $390.5 million per year
reduction in general school aid (an 8.4 percent reduction from this
year's level) and a $43.1 million per year decrease in categorical aid
(a decline of 7.1 percent).  Each school district's revenue limit (the
sum of general aid and property tax levy) would be reduced by 5.5
percent. Based on a model of the impact of the proposed reduction in
revenue limits, the average reduction would equal about $550 per

Agreed upon reductions in teacher compensation (in the form of larger
pension and health insurance payments) will help school districts
balance their budgets. However, the combination of rising costs of
energy and other necessary school district expenditures, the
reductions in state aid and revenue limits, and likely cuts in federal
education aid, suggest that most school districts will be forced to
reduce academic programs, increase class sizes, and take other
strategies to reduce public spending on education.

If the budget passes, we will experience a demoralized workforce and
lose the ability to attract excellent teachers to Wisconsin, a state
with a proud history of valuing education.  Many school districts will
have no choice but to lay off teachers. They will be forced to
increase class sizes, cut courses, cut programs, and eliminate
preparation and professional development time for teachers. All of
these result in lower quality education in Wisconsin.

Quality education requires quality teachers. To attract quality people
to this profession and to this state, we must treat teachers fairly
and compensate them for their hard work.

Damaging education now will have long-term negative social and
economic consequences for children, families and their communities
across Wisconsin.

The School of Education's administrative council opposes the proposed
cuts to public education in Wisconsin. We, as stewards of Wisconsin
education, have a responsibility to stand with teachers and leaders of
education across the state to protect our children's right to fair and
appropriate educational opportunities.

*UW-Madison School of Education Administrative Council**
*Dean Julie Underwood, Chair

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Take action: Attend a town hall meeting on education & health care in the budget

Event: Education & Health Care in the Budget: A Milwaukee Town Hall Hearing

Time Monday, April 18 • 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Location Greater New Birth Church
8327 W Silver Spring Drive
Milwaukee, WI
Join Sen. Lena C. Taylor and other Milwaukee legislators for
a special budget town hall on education and health care issues.

Special guests include MPS Superintendent Dr. Gregory Thornton; Eric
Gass, City of Milwaukee Health Dept. Research and Policy Director; and
Dr. Patricia McManus of the Wisconsin Black Health Coalition.

There will be time of hearing from the experts on budget implications
and then your voices will be heard by legislators!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Don't Forget to VOTE Tuesday, April 5th!

Elections matter!  Use your vote to take action.  April 5th will include important local elections and a statewide Supreme Court race. Primaries will also be held that day for the spring special election to take place May 3rd, 2011.  The special election is to fill seats in Assembly Districts 60, 83 and 94.  Those seats became vacant when the legislators accepted positions in the Walker Administration.

It is important to remember that, while new legislation regarding voter ID is under consideration, as of now no new legislation has been passed.  Therefore, current Wisconsin law does not require registered voters to show ID before voting.  Detailed voter registration information can be found on the Government Accountability Board website at: http://gab.wi.gov/elections-voting/voters.  The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Fund issued a press release March 28th clarifying that there are No New ID Requirements for April 5 Election.  See the press release at: http://www.lwvwi.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=C75aatWeZf0%3D&tabid=41&mid=399

Andrea Kaminski, the Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Fund stated, "“If there is anything we have learned in Wisconsin in the past few months, it is that elections matter. We need competent, responsive local government officials to deal with budget cutbacks fairly. We need an independent judiciary to interpret the law with openness and impartiality. The voters who turn out for this election will have a voice in how the difficult issues we are dealing with are played out."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Senator Vinehout speaks out against SB 22!

Senator Vinehout recently posted this column about charter schools on her website: 

What is a Charter School
And what does it have to do with you?
 “I’ve heard of charter schools,” the woman told me. “But I really don’t know understand them.” People are not familiar with schools often run by a private group but using taxpayer dollars. 

Imagine a school created with a business-like contract or “charter”.  This charter sets it own rules for the school and exempts it from the usual rules about classes, staff, budgeting and administration.

Many charter schools are created and run by local school districts but some are independent charters. Cost to local school districts for these independent schools this year was almost $60 million statewide. In our Senate District, school districts will pay an estimated $1.3 million in the next two years for these independent charter schools.

Last week, as a member of the Senate Committee on Education, I participated in a ten hour hearing on a bill that allows for unlimited charter school expansion. It also creates a politically appointed board to authorize the charter schools. The bill pays for the expansion out of the money given by the state to run all public schools.
Hundreds of people from all over the state came to testify on the bill. Charter school advocates were quizzed by committee members. They were asked how the schools were paid for and how more of them would affect our traditional public schools...

Read more here

Let's get the word out to other senators, and let them know why they should oppose this bill that will gut public education!  The hearing is over, but the fight against SB 22 has just begun!

Today: Global Education Policy and the Neo-liberal Imaginary

The Havens Center at UW-Madison is sponsoring talks by Stephen Ball this week:

"Exporting Policy: The Growth of Global Edu-businesses"
Tuesday, March 29, 4pm, 206 Ingraham Hall

Neo-liberal Networks of Education Reform: Ideology + Influence = Profit
Wednesday, March 30, 4pm, 8417 Social Science

Open Seminar for Students, Facullty and Public
Thursday, March 31, 12:20pm, 8108 Social Science

This will be a great opportunity to think about our Wisconsin fight against school privatization as part of the global spread of neo-liberal education policy.  

Friday, March 25, 2011

News Roundup

Press coverage about SB 22 is picking up! Let's keep spreading the word! Check out the latest articles about this damaging legislation:

Rep. Pop-Roberts Exposes Walker's Budgeting Errors
Walker Overestimated Effects of School Savings, Dem Lawmaker Says
Debate Surrounds Possible Effects of Charter School Legislation
Wisconsin Lawmakers Want to Lift Virtual Charter Cap

You can find links to more articles here.

We need to educate our legislators about how the privatization of public schools is playing out in other places. We can help them make connections between the detrimental effects of the un-checked proliferation of charters in other cities and the negative consequences that SB 22 will have for public education in Wisconsin.

Follow national news here. Here are a few articles about how similar manouvers are underway in Florida. Scott's agenda for Florida shows how the Republican agenda works to undermine public education in a calculated way. First, tie teacher pay to performance and do away with unions. Then, open the floodgates for the privatization of education through charter schools. These types of legislation work together to chip away at and undermine public eduction.

Gov. Rick Scott Urges Lawmakers to Expand Charter Schools
Gov. Rick Scott Signs Teacher Bill and Says Florida Needs More Charter Schools

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Watch archived testimony

Click here to access the Wisconsin Eye video archive of yesterday's hearing on SB 20, 34, and 22.

Thanks to all who came out to testify.  You can still send us a written copy of your testimony if you'd like us to post it: publicschools4publicgood@gmail.com.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thanks for speaking out against SB 22!

Thanks to all who showed up today to have their voices heard by the Senate Committee on Education.  Hundreds of people came out to testify, and the hearing on SB 22 lasted from 2pm to 8pm!  Thanks for making sure our voices were heard.  We'd love to post as much of the testimony as we can - email yours to us at publicschools4publicgood@gmail.com.

Even though the hearing is over, we still have work to do.  We need to continue to spread the word about SB 22 and contact our legislators to voice our opinions against this privatization of public schools. 

We also learned today that Senator Vinehout is deeply interested in understanding the underlying corporate and money dynamics involved with charters, especially the franchises.  We should email her and other senators on the Education Committee literature about this, along with studies that show failures or inconclusive evidence about the performance of charter schools.

Let's educate these senators and see what they can do!
Senator Vinehout
Senator Olsen
Senator Vukmir
Senator Grothman
Senator Darling
Senator Jauch
Senator Larson

Click here for more information about these key legislators.

Send us your testimony!

We want to compile testimony given in opposition to SB 22.  Send us an email with yours so we can post it!

Public testimony for/ against SB 22 is now underway (2 pm)!

Follow live updates of the Senate Education Committee hearing on SB 22 on facebook at Stop the Charter School Bill (SB-22).

Please e-mail a copy of your testimony to publicschools4publicgood@gmail.com so we can compile and post these testimonies for the public to read.  

Testimony from WI Department of Public Instruction

Deputy State Superintendent Dr. Michael Thompson is testifying now against SB 22.  Read his testimony here.

Some of his main points were:
-The bill reduces aids to school districts
-The bill will exacerbate inequities in school funding
-The ability to create multiple charters under one contract may give rise to cookie cutter charter schools, rather than unique and innovative models
-There is a danger that, with the creation of an appointed Charter School Authorizing Board, this will give rise to a separate, independent public school system that is unaccountable to taxpayers
-Requiring charter schools to pay fees to the authorizing board gives that board motivation to authorize more charters regardless of whether it is in the best interests of the public

Here is more information from the DPI website:

map of Wisconsin showing effect of charter funding changes on different districtsMap: How will the proposed changes in charter school funding affect different districts?

DPI Testimony to Senate Committee on Education

Spreadsheet: Impact of Charter School Changes by School, Senate, and Assembly District

Please Register Against SB 22!

Please come to the Senate Education Committee Hearing (Room 411 South, State Capitol) TODAY, March 23rd and register AGAINST SB 22.  There are three ways you can participate today:

1. You can register to speak against the bill
2. You can register against the bill but do not have to speak 
3. You can  prepare written testimony to be submitted to the Education Committee

Each testimony is limited to three minutes. 

Watch Senate Committee on Education Hearing Live on WisconsinEye

Watch the Senate Hearing live here!

LIVE at 10am: Senate Committee on Education public hearing - Agenda includes: residency requirements for Milwaukee Public Schools teachers; selling city-owned school properties; creating a Charter School Authorizing Board. Watch LIVE on Charter Channel 995 and  WisconsinEye.

Come to the Capitol today!

Join us at the Capitol this morning for a press conference and the public hearing on SB 22!  Here's the schedule:

9:40am - Press Conference
Outside Room 411 South
We will be joined by a group from Milwaukee, I Love My Public School and Todd Alan Price, author of this article about charter schools in Ohio.

10:00am - Public Hearing on SB 20, 34, and 22
Room 411 South
SB 22 will be the last bill heard, but you should be there at 10am to sign up to speak.

Here are some talking points to help you plan your testimony.

Superintendent Nerad's response to question about charter schools

At last night's panel discussion, Getting to A+: Wisconsin's education challenges, Dan Nerad, Superintendent of Madison Metropolitan School District made the following points in response to a question from the audience about charter schools:

1. Charters should not take away resources from our public schools
2. The same standards should apply to charters as to other schools
3. He is in support of instrumentality charter schools

With regard to SB 22, Nerad said that he has concerns about the establishment of an appointed Charter Authorizing Board as opposed to trusting locally elected school boards to make these decisions.  He hopes to testify at today's hearing on SB 22.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Press conference - Tomorrow - 9:40 am

Press Release, ps4pg

Talking points for Wednesday hearing

We have compiled a list of talking points and information about SB 22 that you can use to help you plan your testimony for tomorrow.  You can download them here.

It is important that we have our voices heard at this hearing.  Here's the information:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
10:00 AM
411 South
State Capitol

Monday, March 21, 2011

Testify against SB 22 at the Capitol on Wednesday!

It is important that we speak out against this bill that will gut public education and put public money in private hands.  Join us at the Capitol on Wednesday and bring your friends, family, and neighbors!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
10:00 AM
411 South
State Capitol

The senate will be hearing public testimony on SB 20, 34, and 22.  The hearings will occur in that order, so we're not sure exactly when the hearing on SB 22 will start, but follow our blog and we will keep you posted.

Not sure what to say?  Check out these talking points from I Love My Public School.  We will be posting more talking points soon, but these should get you started.

Meeting tonight!

Tonight is our second organizing meeting:

8:00 p.m.
Goodman Community Center

We will make plans for attending the hearing on Wednesday, discuss plans for canvassing this weekend, and talk about next steps for getting the word out about this bill.

If you can't make it but want to get involved, email us and we will put you on our listserv!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

School Administrators Alliance puts out a statement in opposition to Walker's privatization agenda

On March 16, 2011, the SAA issued a statement in response to Governor Walker's press conference on the same day:

"Wisconsin school administrators are united in their opposition to Governor Walker's agenda of privatizing Wisconsin Education.  The Governor's equation is really quite simple:  Dramatic de-funding of public schools plus dramatic expansion of private school vouchers and independent charter schools equals privatizing public education." 

Read the rest of the statement here.

Concerned?  Come to our organizing meeting on Monday, March 21st and plan to attend a public hearing about the bill on March 23rd.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Take action! Come to our meeting:

8:00 p.m. Monday, March 21st
Goodman Community Center

All are welcome to join us to discuss action taken to date and next steps.

Monday, March 14, 2011


The Senate Committee on Education hearing in Madison has been canceled from this Thursday and rescheduled for Wednesday, March 23rd at 10am. 

This should give us more time to organize.

Link to the CREDO study many people are referencing

This Stanford study on charter schools found that as an aggregate, students in charter schools are not faring as well as students in traditional public schools:

Friday, March 11, 2011

Come to our organizing meeting:

8:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 15th
Goodman Community Center
What is SB 22?
If you thought the budget bill which stripped $834 million from the budget for K-12 education was bad for schools and children, IT ONLY GETS WORSE. In summary, SB 22:
  • Creates a 9-person authorizing board for charter schools: 3 appointed by the governor, 3 by the senate majority leader, and 3 by the speaker of the assembly. This limits legislative oversight and allows Walker's cronies, who have no experience in education, to make influential decisions about schools.
  • Changes current law that limits organizations to opening only one charter school. SB 22 permits one organization or company to open multiple charter schools which allows non- and for-profit franchised Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) to enter Wisconsin. 
  • Modifies teacher licensure requirements so that teachers in charters do not need certification.
  • Lifts cap on and promotes virtual (online) charter schools

What are the risks of passing this bill?
  • Public $ siphoned to private hands and away from local communities as schools outsource services to private companies and consultants
  • Traditional public schools become further strapped for funds
  • Decreased power of elected school boards
  • Increased segregation in schools
  • Students who are seen as “difficult” to educate are often pushed out of charters into under-resourced public schools.
  • Because charter schools rely on competition, and competition must be measured, charter school district reform often leads to increased focus on testing and teaching to the test.
  • Most charter schools do not have agreements with unions. Many CMOs have high teacher and school leader turnover. 
  • There is NO EVIDENCE that charter schools do a better job at educating young people! In fact, there is evidence that, in terms of test scores, the majority of charter schools do no better or worse than public schools.

What are the other alternatives?
  • Stop routing resources away from public schools!
  • Maintain high standards for teacher certification!
  • Permit only one charter per organization to keep out charter franchises! 
  • Support and promote high quality neighborhood schools!
  • Support social services that alleviate childhood poverty!