(Hint, it isn’t the Oshkosh Area Board of Education.)
State Rep. Carol Owens (R. Oshkosh) issued a press release opposing school closings in the OASD. Owens voices such admirable thoughts as: “Our small community schools are
the backbone of the community,” and ““Our smaller, local schools need to be supported and not divided.” Bravo Representative Owens.
Of course sentiments divorced from actions are easy. Rep. Owens is in a position to work for meaningful state finance reform or at very least support the band aids and revenue limit increases in the JFC (or Senate or Governor’s) budget that would help some of the districts like Oshkosh and Madison avoid the draconian choices they face and truly allow Boards of Education keep under enrolled but vital schools open. Instead Owens votes the party line and our schools suffer.
Before posting this I tried to get a handle on the situation in Oshkosh and although it is a relatively low spending district, there are many things that parallel Madison. Strings programs are perennially targeted for cuts. Enrollment is relatively stable, but growing on one side of town and shrinking on the other. As Owens noted, attempts to deal with this (and the budget contraints of the state finance system, I’d add) have divided the community.
It is hard to say how intentional it is for some who resist adequate funding of education but the divisions created and the loss of popular programs because of fiscal pressures under the current system do result a loss of faith in and support for public education and that is certainly the long term goal of many anti-government, free market zealots.
Thomas J. Mertz