Many good letters to the editor in response to a recentWisconsin State Journal editorial.
QEO repeal alone would make situation worse
In 1993, Wisconsin adopted a “temporary” formula for funding public schools based on revenue caps, the QEO and a promise of two-thirds funding for education from the state.
Revenue caps and the QEO were set at levels that did not foresee today’s health care and energy costs, or the increasing percentages of students needing services such as special education. State funding falls farther behind the two-thirds goal every year. And under the current budget proposal, we would lose the QEO as well. Revenue caps left alone will not support schools. It will crush them.
It’s time for state government, which created this situation, to take responsibility for solving it. We need a sustainable education system, one that balances the needs of students, teachers and taxpayers.
Simply repealing the QEO will make the situation worse, not better.
— Sherri Swartz, Madison
When I retired in 2006 after a total of over 33 years teaching, 26 of them here, I was earning $47,092, with a master’s degree plus 16 graduate credits, on a pay scale which went no higher than 13 years of experience.
This represents a small annual increase during those 26 years over the equivalent pay scale when I started in 1980 ($18,675).
In what other profession requiring a master’s degree would you expect people to work at those salary rates?
The QEO mandates 3.8 percent. But double digit inflationary increases in health insurance costs eat up most of that.
School districts can’t keep up by financing education mainly with property tax increases. We are trying to pay for education with a horse-and-buggy system. In the 21st century, this simply won’t work. Boomer-aged teachers are retiring, and few young people wanting to survive financially would consider entering such a poorly paid profession.
If you want good teachers, revamp the whole system and control health costs.
— Kay Ziegahn, Richland Center
The QEO does not rise with the cost of living, so teachers are being paid less and less every year. This is unfair, especially for those who have been teaching the longest.
And the revenue caps have caused a lot of damage as well. Several towns have closed schools because they no longer have enough money to run them. Other towns have cut out their sports programs.
And here in Madison, teachers have retired early so younger teachers won’t have to lose their jobs. Programs and courses have been cut, and there is less money for supplies. Computers cannot be upgraded, so they are too slow in some schools.
If we are to keep up with schools around the world, we must eliminate the QEO and the revenue caps. We must fund our schools.
— Genie Ogden, Madison
As an educator in the public schools, I wonder why it seems like this is a panic. The QEO has been in place since 1993, and this is Gov. Jim Doyle’s second term. There should have been plenty of time to evaluate the QEO and the revenue caps, as well as comparing these to other states.
Wisconsin is not alone in struggling to fund public schools. You can blame it on our “rich” health care benefits, although I’ve never heard GHC referred to as “rich.” Maybe addressing the portion of health care would be reasonable. But Wisconsin cannot expect to attract and keep good teachers if wage increases don’t even come close to the rate of inflation.
People should be reminded that educators not only have a minimum of one degree but must also pay for six credits to maintain the five-year license that we pay for.
It may also be time for states and the Department of Education to revisit the notion of public schools and how to best prepare tomorrow’s workforce. Cutting programs, increased class sizes, fewer technological resources and closed schools is not the answer to funding education.
— Dawn Nonn, Madison
Isn’t it amazing how concerned citizens can so clearly see the need for comprehensive school finance reform, yet our elected leaders seem to be wearing blinders.
Thomas J. Mertz