Things have been busy with the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools (WAES) and the Penny for Kids campaign. Time to catch up a little.
Click on the image at the top for a fine interview with WAES Executive Director (and lone employee) Tom Beebe. It really explains what Penny for Kids is all about.
The Rural Caucus presented some proposals on school-funding this week. They aren’t bad, but they aren’t anywhere near enough. WAES issued a press release, mostly saying that. Here is an excerpt.
Their package of ideas addresses very real problems. For 15 years, schools and children have been subjected to an unsustainable school funding formula and now they are actually facing drastic cuts in state funding. As a result of this crisis, many schools are cutting personnel, services, and programs, others are fighting just to keep their doors open, and property taxpayers are being overburdened.
So while I applaud the Rural Caucus for their efforts, their proposal falls far short of what our children, schools, and communities need.The ideas forwarded by the Rural Caucus are Band-Aids and Band-Aids won’t stop this kind of bleeding.
What we urgently need is bold thinking and immediate, significant financial help – – a transfusion, not Band-Aids — as well as a long-term solution to the school funding crisis.
It is for this reason that the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools has launched “A Penny for Kids,” a program that has the support of thousands of voters. It proposes a one-penny increase in the sales tax in order to meet, head on, the revenue shortfall. This transfusion of revenue will buy us the time we need to address the structural failures of our current funding formula.
I appreciate the Rural Caucus’s willingness to take on this issue, but their solution falls far short of the urgent and significant reform that must begin now.
Last, but not least, the latest School-Funding reform Update from WAES (full update linked here, table of contents below with selected items linked to related posts on AMPS:
- WAES moves into fund-raising effort
- Schools around state continue to cut programs, services
- State budget puts school districts into a lose-lose situation
- Wisconsin Advanced Placement test takers beat national average
- Grassroots festival will feature panel on school-funding reform
- Support for schools works its way up publics’ agenda
- School-funding reform remedies proceed in Ohio, Washington
- Oregonians vote in tax increases to protect schools, other services
- IWF, others to host forum on local revenue challenges
- Cutting dropouts is good thing for Milwaukee and the U.S.
- Help WAES correct e-mail update glitch
- School-funding reform calendar
It is both good and bad that WAES is so busy. It has become clear that WAES with Penny for Kids is the only group who have recognized the crisis that is happening and are trying to do something about it, in both the long and short term. WAES can do this because we (I’m on the Board) are truly a grassroots organization, not beholden to the status quo or “the powers that be.” As people realize this, WAES is attraxting more attention and interest. That’s good. The downside is that WAES is resource poor and over-extended. We need more help from individuals and organizations. Get in touch with WAES and find out how you can help.
Thomas J. Mertz