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
student.

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

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