Kenosha public schools laying off hundreds of teachers -- thanks, governor! | Wis.Community

Kenosha public schools laying off hundreds of teachers -- thanks, governor!

"O father! I hear the sound of guns;Oh, say, what may it be?"Some ship in distress, that cannot liveIn such an angry sea!" -- "The Wreck of the Hesperus" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Scott Walker's various economic schemes may, as he claims, be working -- but you are not. Especially if you're a public employee in Wisconsin, and even more especially if you're a public school teacher. The combined categories have seen thousands of jobs cuts in employment statewide since Walker's budget was enacted last year, and the worst may be yet to come. Latest evidence:

The Kenosha Unified School District has just announced that it expects to cut more than 250 teachers to help close a $28 million budget deficit next year. Included in the cuts: Eight administrators and 13 secretaries.

The staffing reductions would save $15 million. Another $10 million would be saved by, among other changes, closing a middle school and reducing school operating budgets. But even with all that, the school district will need to find another $3 million in savings. It can't cover the shortfalls on the revenue side, thanks to Walker-pushed limits on public school district tax levies. New laws reduced the amount of property taxes districts can raise per student by 5.5% statewide.

[img_assist|nid=129639|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=135|height=92]Wisconsin public teachers and their unions have argued that huge, Walker-driven levy cuts in 2011, along with a $749 million decrease in state aid, were harming many schools throughout the state. Walker claimed otherwise. "Our reforms are protecting taxpayers while keeping our schools great," Walker said. "Taxpayers are seeing their levies go down for the first time in six years, while our schools continue to meet the needs of Wisconsin students."

So, governor, exactly how will a public school district like Kenosha "continue to meet the needs of Wisconsin students" by cutting more than 250 teacher jobs? Maybe you'll just have to expand the private school voucher program once more, not just to Racine as you did last year but now also to neighboring Kenosha. Then, newly underserved public school pupils there can go to private schools, with cash vouchers paid for by ... the Kenosha School District that you already beleaguered!

All of which begs a larger question: Is the Walker recall election really, as he and mainstream media say, driven by "big boss" labor unions? Or is it really driven by voters angry over Walker's wreck of an economic policy? The evidence for the former is slight. The evidence for the latter is mounting, even as Wisconsin sinks lower and its students struggle.

Welcome to a statewide public education system that used to be among the finest in the country and is now threatening to elbow out the State of Mississippi for the lowest of rankings. All thanks to Walker and his GOP-controlled legislature.

Published

April 11, 2012 - 11:41am

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