Thursday, February 28, 2013

Scott Walker's Favorite Educational Tool

Almost two years ago, Scott Walker pulled out one if his favorite "tools", the Ax of Austerity, and wielded it on the state's educational system.  Using this ax, he lopped off a billion dollars from the education system.

Before that, when Scott Walker dropped his "bomb" on Wisconsin in the form of Act 10, he said that he was giving local municipalities and school districts "tools" to deal with cuts coming to their budgets.

These "tools" were hatchets, which the local governments and school boards used to hack away at teacher's pay and benefits, if not wiping out their positions altogether.

People wailed that he was going to ruin education.  He was going to force good teachers to retire, to move to other states and/or leave the field of education altogether.  The said that it would create larger classes, cut out some fields of education and lower the high level of education that this state had enjoyed for years before this.

And boy, were they ever correct. 

In the first year, Wisconsin lost some 3,400 of its finest educators.  Class sizes grew, schools were closed, programs were stopped.  No matter how you looked at it, things were pretty grim.

School districts from Oshkosh to Mr. Horeb to Madison; in Shawano; really, from all over the state, had to make some difficult choices, none of them winners.

Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Walker, along with his propagandists and apologists, insisted that his tools were working.

But we knew better.  

In fact, we kept pointing out that not only was it not working, but that Walker's tools were faulty and would only help the school districts minimally and only for one year, maybe two, and then only if they tapped into other revenues to keep afloat.

Now the tools are broken and things are turning even uglier.

Sheboygan schools are trying to figure out what to do about a $5 million hole caused by Walker's tools.  The Elmbrook school district, which had already closed one of its most popular schools due to Walker's tools, is facing another $2.3 million funding gap.  Nicolet, like the others, is facing a severe funding shortage as well, as it sinks in that they will have to keep finding new cuts every year for the foreseeable future.

And it's still early.  As time goes on, the gentle reader will find that school district after school district, from every region of the state, will be facing the choices of closing schools, laying off teachers, increasing class sizes, ending programs and/or raising taxes.

This is also the result of Walker's most favorite tool of them all - the fiscal sabot.

A sabot is a wooden shoe that European workers would throw into the workings of new machinery in order to break the machines, hence the word sabotage.

The sabot that Walker threw into the educational system was the cutting of revenue, the restrictions on school districts gaining new revenue, and making it more difficult for the schools to retain the good teachers.  This damage was furthered by the constant smearing of teachers, falsely portraying them as greedy, violent thugs, and finding ways to turn public opinion against them every chance they got.

It matters little to Walker whether districts raise taxes, cut programs, drove off teachers or closed schools.  His goal was to make sure that the public education system stopped working.

Not long ago, a reader left a comment on how they had just voted in their region to raise taxes for the school district.  The commenter went on to say how the people became angry about this, blaming the school board, the teachers and everyone but Walker, who caused their misery when he slashed funding to the schools.

Now that the results of Walker's sabotage of the education system is working, he has started moving toward the end game of all this. 

In order to satisfy his benefactors, the education profiteers that have given him so much campaign money, Walker has proposed a vast expansion of the voucher program.  In other words, he's weakened the education system to the point that the profiteers can swoop in and start swilling even more at the public trough, gobbling up taxpayer money has fast as it's being given to them.

People are starting to realize what a threat the voucher system is to our public education system and how Walker has rigged the game against the tried and true method of making sure our children receive a decent education and learn the skills of critical thinking.

The facts are that the voucher schools are expensive, lack accountability and do a poor job of educating children.  

And they've already starting asking the state for even more money, which Walker and his Republican allies are more than willing to give them, as long as the education profiteers keep feeding their campaign coffers.  And when that money runs out - or when people catch on that they aren't educating their children - these profiteers will slink off into the night, looking for new victims that they can steal from.

The question now is whether enough of the people become educated themselves on what's going on and are able to rise up and put a stop to it before any more damage is done.  

Are we going to make sure our children receive the best educations they can or are we willing to sell their futures so that people like Walker and the education profiteers can turn a buck?


  1. And this is all going to be reflected in the economy. The righties always love to wail about Greece. Walker is giving us Greece.

  2. He's not just giving away our education system to the highest, for-profit bidders, he's going to give away Wisconsin land, too.

    "Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposes lifting a longtime prohibition on foreign ownership of large tracts of land in Wisconsin — a change that some legislators believe will allow other countries to gain too much control over some of the world's best farmland."

    Read more:

    1. Uh-oh. This reminds me of the mess big Dutch factory farms are making in Michigan. Messes that would never be allowed in the Netherlands.

    2. I wonder how any legislators could go along with the foreign ownership of land idea. Right now, they can own up to 640 acres, but they want to lift that cap.

  3. It is actually worse than you explain. School district expense growth is in the 2-3% range just from inflation and the expense of federal mandates to educate. Revenue growth? $0.00, or, 0.0%, or, $ZERO.
    It cannot work. They need money not 'tools'.

  4. The data is just starting to surface, as long as superintendents and principals don't see their personal salaries and benefits being affected they will be quiet about how it impacts their employees.

    1. Thats not true:

      Steve McNeal, superintendent of the Beloit School District, blasted Walker’s proposal as not doing enough to help districts like his that have already made millions in cuts.

      “The low-hanging fruit is gone for us,” he said. “We’ve pulled every rabbit out of the hat.”

    2. I know this sounds cliche, but the real important part of this is not the employees, it is the students. Bigger class sizes means each child gets less attention/help from the teacher. The scariest thing is that there is really no oversight to speak of when it comes to the schools that these vouchers will pay for.

  5. Yeah, I see your point. School districts never had budget issues prior to Act 10. I never realized it before. What really makes it crystal clear is when you link back to your own articles. VERY credible.

    1. Of course individual districts had budget issues before Act 10. But Act 10 insured that they couldn't raise revenue, even if the voters want to raise the revenue. The voucher expansion makes it even worse by taking money from the education budget to start a new unproven experimental school system that doesn't have to prove results.
      (Although some of the schools already voluntarily follow state rules on that, which is good)

  6. I don't understand why lawyers are not lining up to have a class action on the disability voucher money being offered up in his budget, because this will disproportionately effect minority students' education. Equal rights violations in this action against public education.


    You're jumpin' the shark again.

    So you want to proclaim, without any evidence or sourcing, that the teacher retiring now are the "finest".

    You don't understand much of what you blog about lately.

    I am no walker fan -- in fact, been very active in fighting this stuff.

    But the mindless pro-teacher stuff that ignores the realities of the classroom has got to stop -- undermines credibility on every other issues.

    The teachers being shoved out are the oldest, highest paid ones -- usually the ones that thumbed their noses at technology and cannot get along with today's kids -- digital natives, that actually need teachers that are "teachable" and willing to do meaningful things with technology.

    It is a lie that kids all are computer experts and it is a bigger lie that schools are supporting their needs.

    And the blame for this lies largely on the teachers, their unions, and an attitude that "I don't do technology".

    Many that retired should have retired many MANY years ago -- but the unions protected them and screwed the new teachers.


    And often because the new teachers had a basic understanding and willingness to use technology and participate in district training.

    Public schools in Wisconsin are NOT great. The ACT/SAT is a racist set of tests that confims WI has some of the most racist schools in America -- the test has nothing to do with "achievement".

    WI public schools largely SUCK! The mindless cheerleading for them is what empowers walker to divide and conquer us.

    1. Wow! It sounds like you have a very specific bone to pick with someone, somewhere. In my experiences, being a teacher and all, most "older" teachers are very willing and excited to learn about new technology. Often, financial constraints do not allow for new equipment for all tech upgrades. I have seen many experienced teachers give up a LOT to mentor and advise new teachers. Your observations are not typical. And WI public schools ARE great!

  8. Republicans need poorly educated Americans. Otherwise no one will vote for them.

  9. I made a job offer to an executive to move to Wisconsin. They refused the (quite substantial offer) because of what Scott Walker was doing to the education system!

  10. You were a day ahead of me on this, Capper. Well done. I also noted that Waukesha, Washington, and Ozaukee Counties had major year-over-year drops in home sales prices for January 2013, and that'll continue if the schools keep declining like this, even while the rest of the nation rebounds.

    Funny how a lot of these areas voted for Walker, and now are taking it in the shorts because they did so. SUCKERS!

    1. It's actually a pretty terrifying amount of wealth they've pissed away in order to have a tiny tax cut: over 8 billion dollars, enough to have made good Walker's DPI cuts in the entire state for twenty years.

  11. Yes, let's get rid of ALL the experienced teachers in Wisconsin. FIRE THEM All!!!

    In fact, let's get rid of EVERY experienced doctor, surgeon, nurse, auto mechanic, engineer, etc.... Old people are automatically STUPID people who should be FIRED.

    Just like teenagers, NEW TEACHERS have ALL the answers because they just got out of college and don't need no more education.

    One slight problem here, most of the NEW teachers, at least the good ones, are fleeing Wisconsin for other states or fleeing teaching for other professions.

    I'm guessing "Anonymous" is a frustrated teacher wannabe who can't get a job with his cumulative 1.47GPA in Education.

  12. My children attend Lutheran schools that now accept voucher money from the State. The education they receive far exceeds what they'd be getting at MPS. Where are all of these horrible Choice schools?

  13. Lutheran definition of "far exceeds": lots of prayer and only the people of the "right" color are admitted.