By Senator, Lena C. Taylor
For the second year in a row, MPS will take a harsh reduction in state aid. I knew it was coming, but I cannot help but be terribly frustrated. I cannot fathom the mind-set behind the Republican Party’s assault on the public educational system in the state of Wisconsin. Especially here in Milwaukee, the school system had already been struggling for years.
We all know that sweeping reforms and improvements must be made. But MPS needs attention and resources, not cuts. In line with their increasingly bizarre ideology, Governor Walker and his allies in the legislature believe that government is the enemy. Unfortunately, I do not believe my friends across the aisle still have the ability to clearly see the consequences of their actions.
Mitt Romney gets applause these days for threatening to lay off policemen, firefighters, and teachers. The cult of “fiscal responsibility” continues to grow, and I fear that the future of our nation will be held hostage of this madness. Republicans once built highways and schools. They are attempting to starve the schools that teach our children. We need to realize that the cuts are not about to stop.
In fact, two thirds of the school districts across Wisconsin will receive less aid this year. We’ve known in our heads that this was going to happen ever since Governor Walker pushed his still-despicable Act 10 through the legislature. But the people of Wisconsin have yet to truly feel the pain imposed by the draconian budget’s unrealistic restrictions.
The fact is, the worst provision of the school aid cuts were the limits they placed on school districts abilities to deal with the cuts themselves. They have been forbidden from raising property taxes to offset cuts to aid.
This is not what fiscal responsibility looks like. Increasing property taxes may be unpopular. In many cases, they would be the wrong choice. But they are a tool that towns and cities need to have at their disposal.
Fiscal responsibility requires the ability to balance a budget. No one disputes that fact. But underneath all the calls for discipline and the talk of difficult choices lies the fact that Governor Walker does not want town or city to make difficult decisions for themselves and their citizens. Instead, he wants to attack public schools.
This means that school districts, MPS included, have had no choice but to make cuts. Teachers will be laid off, and those who remain may lose their benefits. Although I have great faith in the inherent goodness of those who choose to teach, I can only assume that as books fall apart and malfunctioning equipment cannot be replaced, some truly talented teachers may leave the field. They have clearly not been appreciated in Wisconsin. Ask yourself, is this what the school system need?