The following is an op-ed written by Rick Esenberg, President and General Counsel at the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, and Dr. Will Flanders, WILLâ€™s Education Research Director.
Because it is one of the most important functions of state government, education policy can arouse passions. There is nothing wrong with feeling strongly about an issue. But emotion is not a substitute for facts and reason, and passion is no excuse for stridency and error. A recent op-edÂ from Wauwatosa Support Our Schools (SOS) president Mary Young and Women Committed to an Informed Community co-chairs Marva Herndon and Gail Hicks falls way short of that threshold. Â
The authors lament that politicians have "slashed more than $1 billion from our kids since 2008," disregarding that for a portion of that time Democrats controlled state government in Madison. It is true that both Democratic and Republican administrations faced tough choices and had to reduce state aid to schools during some of the past decade. It is worth remembering that in 2011, Gov. Walker and the Republicans inherited a state that was broke. There was a $3 billion projected deficit. In exchange for a decrease in spending, Walker gave school district superintendents tools to curb costs, resulting in well-documented savings of over $2 billion for school districts. Because the districts could utilize these savings, substantial reductions in actual educational programming were avoided. As the authors concede, the 2011 cut to education has not caused the sky to fall; graduation rates and ACT scores for students who were not yet in high school in 2011 are high compared to other states.
The authors then take local legislators to task for "sending our schools backward" by voting to "funnel millions more in funding away from our kids." Specifically, the authors point to a $5 million cut to schools signed by Governor Walker on March 30. Â
This is quite the claim, but it is taken way out of context. When school choic…Read more...