Category Archives: Take Action

WAES School-Funding Reform Update, the Week of May 24, 2010

From the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools, the folks behind the Penny for Kids campaign.   Table of Contents below,  full Update in pdf form here.  This is a good issue, click the link and read the whole thing!

  • “A Penny for Kids” — It’s head-scratching time in Wisconsin

    School-funding reform calendar

  • Help WAES correct e-mail update glitch
  • Rural group’s work is primer on school-finance reform

  • WAES has work to do and needs your help to do it
  • Sales tax hike mentioned in Representatives survey
  • Funding crises deepen for Wisconsin school districts
  • Some things we’d like to hear Wisconsin’s new Governor say
  • WEAC, WREA pass resolutions pushing school-funding reform
  • One WAES member honored, another joins radio discussion
  • WAES has work to do and needs your help to do it
  • Rural group’s work is primer on school-finance reform
  • Help WAES correct e-mail update glitch
  • School-funding reform calendar

Thomas J. Mertz

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On the Agenda — MMSD, the Week of May 24, 2010

No Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education meeting this week, but three other governance meetings, the most interesting of which is the “Strategic Planning Steering Committee” on Wednesday at 5:00 (Goodman Center,  149 Waubesa Street).   The other meetings were/are a Four-Year-Old Kindergarten (4-K) Advisory Council Meeting that took place this morning and a Madison School & Community Recreation (MSCR) Advisory Committee Meeting at 6:30 on Wednesday at MSCR (3802 Regent Street).  All the meetings are listed here, with initial agendas.  Don’t forget about the final Public Hearing and vote on the 2010-11 Budget, next Tuesday, June 1.

I’m glad to see 4-K going forward.  I was talking with a pre-school teacher yesterday and she was skeptical, but I think it will happen for 2011-12.

I was little confused by the term “Strategic Planning Steering Committee,” but it turns out that it refers to the “committee of the whole,” all those who participated in the first round.  For those who need a review, the district Strategic Planning page is here.  There are no documents linked on the meeting notice, but the committee members were sent this 50 page packet (with a different agenda than the one in the notice) along with the Core Elements document.  I don’t see much new here.

That’s disappointing.  It appears that one purpose of the meeting is to give an update on progress.  In the linked documents there are dozens (maybe hundreds) of action steps (or whatever the jargon is) that should be nearly complete by now, but no information about what has and has not been done.  Maybe there will be a presentation on the progress, but even with a four hour meeting there won’t be much time for much detail.  Some advance info would be nice for the committee members.  It would also help interested community members, who can’t make the meeting.  The strategic plan does call for “a consistent, ongoing
process for telling stakeholders what the district is doing, reporting progress, and seeking input and feedback.”

From the agenda and the remarks by Superintendent Dan Nerad at the May 10 Board meeting (video here, at about 47 minutes in) it appears that another purpose of the meeting is to begin downsizing the ambitions for the plan, the district and education in Madison.  Nerad cited resource issues.  It needs to be recognized that these resource issues are self-imposed, they have revenue authority they aren’t planning on using.

Thanks to a successful referendum that was largely sold as a means to fund strategic planning and implementation of those plans, the revenue authority is there to do much more, instead they are talking about doing less, over $13 million less next year.

Have they looked at the most recent WKCE achievement data?  Less ain’t gonna fix that (and much, much else).

This is a sad moment.  Our educational leaders are not acting (in Kathy Liska’s words) as “guardians of our schools,” but as “guardians of the taxpayers.”  Quoting Johnny Rotten, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated.”

Don’t forget that on June 1, you can join me and Kathy and others to make one last ditch effort to get the Board to put something more positive into this budget, to reverse this acceptance of declining expectations, to drown out the tea party in the Board Members’ heads.

Thomas J. Mertz

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Great MMSD Budget Testimony

With three Madison Metropolitan School District budget hearings thus far (video of the first two here on the district Budget Page), all the Edgewater public testimony, the Dane County Immigration Task Force feedback session and more, lately I’ve watched or read a lot of examples of citizens making their case before government officials. Kathy Liska’s testimony from last Monday’s School Board’s meeting in the video above is one of the best I’ve witnessed.  Watch it, she’s as good as Megan Fox on school funding.

Ms Liska has testified at all three school budget hearings.  On Monday she was one of only five people to testify.  I had the pleasure of meeting her and talking a little,  she said she’d be back to testify at the June 1, 2010 hearing.  Will you be there? Do you care enough to be there?

I’ll be there, pushing my proposals for Budget Amendments which take money from some of the $13 million in cuts and use it to improve the district. It would be great if others would join me in supporting this, or offer their own ideas on June 1.

That’s Tuesday June 1, 2010, 5:00 PM, Doyle Building Auditorium.  This is essentially your last chance.  If you can’t make it, drop the Board a line at board@madison.k12.wi.us.

Thomas J.  Mertz

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Taxes (and Schools)

From "Wisconsin's Revenue Gap," Institute for Wisconsin's Future

I’ve been known to chide Wisconsin’s lawmakers for their reluctance to enact or even talk about essential revenue reforms.  It is only fair to note when they do the right thing and the good they’ve done by doing the right thing.

Yesterday the Legislative Fiscal Bureau released the April 2010 tax collection data.  Two big pieces of good news here.  First, collections are only down 1% from last year and that means that there will be no need for a budget reconciliation and the cuts to shared revenues and state services it would surely bring.  Second, corporate taxes are up by 32.4% over last year.

Too many moving pieces and not enough info to know in much detail, but the closing of the Las Vegas loophole by enacting Combined Reporting in the last biennial budget  certainly contributed to this.  A very positive step in returning some balance to our revenue system and staving off further cuts to essential investments and services.  Good work.

As the chart at the top indicates, there is still more work to do.  There are other loopholes to close, and other places to look at the balance among taxes paid in Wisconsin.  As always, the Institute for Wisconsin’s Future/Wisconsin Council on Children and Families Catalog of Tax Reform Options for Wisconsin. is the place to start (these organizations also deserve much of the credit for pushing lawmakers on Combined Reporting).

In a related story, Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Tom “No New Taxes (for now)” Barrett is not getting suckered into abandoning  Combined Reporting because of  ignorant attacks from those vying for the GOP and Tea Party mantle(s) (and here)..

On the national front, The Cap Times has a good follow up to the sales tax for education (read Penny for Kids) vote in Arizona, with your intrepid blogger offering some thoughts.  This also came up in the WORT diiscussi0n of school finance (listen here and try to make the WORT Block Party this Sunday ).  Also of note is the lawsuit over school funding in California and the continued need to advocate for the Harkin Education jobs proposal.

Above, I said there is still work to do.  It isn’t only because to the previous trends in corporate taxation it is because Wisconsin’s revenue and school finance systems are broken, and till they are fixed school cuts will continue all around the state.  Here are some recent examples:

Five Marshfield teachers cut to balance district’s budget

Manitowoc School Board OKs teacher, aide layoffs

36 teachers will receive layoff notices

Teachers under fire as districts deal with tight budgets

Budget, teacher cuts create turmoil for districts in area

School district bankruptcies seen as possible

Much more work to do.  Get started!.

Thomas J. Mertz

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Arizona Voters Approve Sales Tax for Education!

A referendum to increase the sales tax by 1 cent, with 2/3 of the revenue designated for education passed in Arizona yesterday, with a stunning 64% of the popular vote.

If conservative Arizona can do this, why can’t we even get Penny for Kids introduced in Wisconsin?  Sign the Penny for Kids petition and drop your legislator a line asking them that question.

Links:

New York Times report; Reuters reportExpect More Arizona (vote yes campaign).

Thomas J. Mertz

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MMSD Budget, an Open Letter

On Monday May 17 (6:00 PM) and Tuesday June 1 (5:00 PM), the Madison Metropolitan School Board will hold public hearings and meetings on the 2010-11 Budget.  On June 1st they will vote to finalize the Preliminary Budget Both meetings are in the Doyle Building Auditorium and will be carried by MMSD-TV.

Many relevant documents can be found on the district Budget Page.  Among those missing are the Amended Preliminary Budget (reflecting actions through May 4)  and the Cost-to-Continue Budget partially incorporating the Reorganization.

In this penultimate phase of the budget process I will be proposing two budget amendments for the Board’s consideration (the ultimate phase comes in October when student counts, state aid and the property tax levy are all certified).  I am asking other concerned community members to join me in supporting these, either by testifying at the hearings or contacting the Board (board@madison.k12.wi.us).  The amendments and the thoughts behind them are explained in the open letter to the Board below.

Members of the MMSD Board of Education

These last months I’ve watched as you’ve struggled with the 2010-22 budget.

The seeming inability of our state officials to reform education funding combined with a cuts in state education aid by those same officials, left you in a difficult position, with no clear, easy choices.

I’ve listened to hundreds of community members asking you to not cut particular items and many of these ask you to not cut at all.  The clear message from those who came before you was that tax increases are better than further cuts to our district.

This is the same spirit that animated 87,329 voters (over 68 %) to support the 2008 referendum.  Now you are poised to enact cuts much greater than the $9 million anticipated had the referendum failed.

I have also witnessed your consistent efforts to act on the best information possible in order to maintain successful initiatives, leave core programs untouched, preserve jobs and avoid greater inequities.   Although there is much about the process and the results (thus far) that I don’t like, you — along with administrators and staff —  have earned respect and even a little applause for having evaluated almost $30 million in cuts, efficiencies and savings and arrived at over $13 million that could be trimmed with relatively minimal impact on the things that matter most.  We shouldn’t fool ourselves or anyone else, there will be a negative impacts from the changes detailed in the Preliminary Budget.

Reflecting on this process three other things stood out.  First and most generally,  the idea of progress —  moving forward, improving educational opportunities and governance —  seemed to be lost in the efforts to maintain and preserve.   Second, the Board throughout this budget (and at other times) has been hampered by inadequate information.  Last, I continually heard “Equity” invoked as a rationale to keep budget items and occasionally heard it as a justification for cutting programs (as if the answer to inequity was to eliminate instead of moving or expanding something that was benefiting students); I never heard anyone talk about doing something positive to increase Equity.

These are the thoughts behind my proposals.   I find it almost criminal that people like you who are committed to public education can enact cuts at this level and not at minimum consider reallocating from some of those cuts in ways that have great potential to improve our schools.  I know I can’t sit by silently and allow that to happen.

I am proposing that you consider using $2.25 Million of the  approximately $13 Million in revenue authority  currently designated for property tax relief be used in the following manner.

  • Budget $.25 million for improved data collection analysis and reporting as required in the Strategic Plan, TAG Plan, and  Equity Policy, Literacy Education Evaluation and elsewhere. This should include the creation of a position working with the Board of Education to determine and meet their informational needs.
  • Budget $2.0 million in Supplemental Allocations to high need schools via the Equity Resource Formula (or a similar criteria) and aligned with purposes identified in School Improvement Plans and consistent with the Strategic Plan and Equity Policy. Since SAGE and Title I do provide resources to high need elementary schools, it may be advisable to disproportionately target secondary schools with these funds.

A little more background and details on each of these.

Observers of and participants in this budget process have repeatedly expressed frustration with the quality of information available to base decisions on. The Strategic Plan, the Equity Policy, the Literacy Evaluation Initiative, the Talented and Gifted (TAG) Plan, the Culturally Relevant Education Program and much more all include evaluation and reporting components. These are all critical to bringing improvement to the district. Because of budget pressures the staff are being asked to do more with less.  Reviewing not only the budget process, but also the State of the District Report and the draft Equity Report, it is clear that there is much room for improvement.   This is an area where a small investment could have great effect.

I want to make it clear that by data, I include qualitative assessments of programs and practices.  I would also encourage the use of some of this money to move forward with assessments other than the WKCE.  the limits of that tool are well known.  More generally, a word of caution about the utility of any and all assessments and analysis is in order.  Data should not and cannot drive policy, but good information, well presented should serve to guide decisions.   I have included the recommendation for a position working with the Board for two reasons.  First, I think that the Board knows best what information they would find useful and should be able to have a clear means of getting that information.  Second, in too many instances those directly involved in programs have been the sole source of information and evaluations resulting in a lack of perspective, objectivity and the very real possibility of conflicts of interest.

Much of my involvement in education advocacy stems from my 2005 appointment to the MMSD Equity Task Force.   This is an issue that is close to my heart and central to my advocacy at the local, state and national levels.

After much work, in 2008 the Board of Education enacted a policy based partially on the recommendations of that Task Force. Both the Task Force and the policy recommend where appropriate “unequal distribution of resources and services in response to the unequal distribution of needs and educational barriers.”  This is how schools can seek to combat societal inequality instead of reproducing it.

Before being decimated by budget cuts, MMSD used to do this through what were called “supplemental allocations,” which provided extra resources to our highest need schools.  Instead we rely on the limited and inadequate state and federal SAGE, Title I, IDEA, ELL and the like for limited and inadequate Equity based allocations.

We do nothing or next to nothing beyond what is required by law with general funds (as you know, the legal mandates for Special Education students and English Language Learners can only be met by supplementing with general funds); Title I and SAGE do nothing for students in our Middle and High Schools.

Little progress is being made in the achievement gap.  African American and Hispanic students are almost twice as likely to drop out as they are to participate in programs for the “Talented and Gifted.”  166 African American or Hispanic drop outs/90 receiving any attention from the TAG staff.   All parts of that statistic are ugly.  There is much room for improvement here and in other areas of concern for Equity.

Bringing back some form of Equity directed supplemental allocations would be an important step forward.  I am asking that you to consider taking this step.

In closing I think it is important to recall that for 16 years the state imposed revenue caps have forced painful cuts and made progress and improvements difficult.  As one of you said “We’ve given up on dreaming.”   Too much time and energy has gone into deciding what to cut and not cut and too little into making things better.  Recent state actions and inaction left the Board with difficult choices involving further cuts and significantly increased property taxes.  More time and energy spent deciding what to cut or not cut and how much to tax; very little spent trying to make our schools the best they can be.  Without the initiatives I’ve proposed  others like them, the district is projected to levy about$13 million less than is allowed by the state.  In the service of dreams and Equity, it is imperative that some of that authority be used to move forward, to improve, not just maintain and preserve.

Sincerely

Thomas J. Mertz

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Quote of the Day — The Decline in State Education Aid (and more)

In the 2009-11 biennial budget, Wisconsin was forced to reduce state general school aids by $147 million each year compared to FY 2009.  Despite increasing poverty and rising fixed costs, the level of general aid available to Wisconsin school districts for the 2010-11 school year is roughly equal to what it was five years ago.

Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers in letters to Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold in support of the Harkin Education Jobs bill.

To learn more about the Harkin bill, see here and this New York Times editorial: “Saving the Teachers.”  I also liked Harold Meyerson’s recent Washington Post op ed, “Deficit hawkery’s harsh impact on education” (although with most states deficits aren’t allowed and much of it is about the equally insidious budget hawkery).

USA Today is reporting that:

Federal, state and local taxes — including income, property, sales and other taxes — consumed 9.2% of all personal income in 2009, the lowest rate since 1950, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports. That rate is far below the historic average of 12% for the last half-century. The overall tax burden hit bottom in December at 8.8.% of income before rising slightly in the first three months of 2010.

So there is plenty of reason and room to be talking about real tax reform that makes needed adjustments and provides necessary revenues.

While on that topic, the Penny for Kids campaign is going strong.  Join the thousands calling for an sales tax increase dedicated to education in order to meet the crisis and start Wisconsin back in the right direction.

Following Evers lead and contacting our Senators would be a good idea:

Herb Kohl

Madison Office
14 W. Mifflin St., Suite 207
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 264-5338
Fax: (608) 264-5473

Russ Feingold

Middleton
1600 Aspen Commons
Middleton, WI 53562-4716
(608) 828-1200
TDD (608) 828-1215
Fax (608) 828-1203

If you want to hit State officials too, all the info is here.

Last, WisPolitics is reporting that Supt Evers also broached some school funding reform ideas around the Levy Credits (no link).  Addressing the levy credits as the property tax relief they are, instead pretending that they are education aid is  a great start,  but much more is needed to take our state where it should be and offer a quality education to all.

Thomas J. Mertz

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Mark Pocan’s Ear

If you live in the 78th Wisconsin Assembly District, your Representative Mark Pocan wants to hear from you and he wants to hear from you about the “revenue crisis facing our schools.”  He’s listening; it is time to speak loud and clear.

In his latest mailing to constituents the last question of his survey reads:

Given the revenue crisis facing our schools, how would you direct additional funding towards K12? (please select one)

____Increase property taxes

____Increase sales tax by 1c under a “Penny for Kids” proposal

____Close corporate tax loopholes

____Redirect current revenue collections towards K12

____Other

Other than the “please select one” this is great (I think closing corporate tax loopholes and Penny for Kids should both be in the mix).

If you threw your copy out already, you can download the survey here and mail it to the address included.  You can also email him: rep.pocan@legis.wisconsin.gov.  Do sign the Penny for Kids petition too.

If you don’t live in his district, think about doing it anyway, but indicate where you live or send it to your Rep (Pocan cares — maybe too much — what voters outside his district think).

Don’t let this opportunity go to waste!

Thomas J. Mertz

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MMSD Budget Facts and Thoughts

Just some things that have been on my mind as this budget process unfolds.

……….

The November 2008 referendum that many of us worked so hard for was a waste of time and effort.  There was no way of knowing that at the time and it doesn’t have to be that way, but as of now that’s the reality.  Last year the referendum added $4 Million to the Revenue Limit, but the district levied at least $6 Million under the limit (it gets complicated when you figure in Fund 80  — which has no limit — and the 2005 maintenance referendum and other factors…).  This year the 2008 referendum adds $8 Million in revenue authority; the Board of Education has already “decided” to levy $10,570,692 less than they are allowed.  The cuts and efficiencies already decided are $2.5 Million greater than those the referendum sought to avoid.

……….

There are about $5.37 Million in cuts and efficiencies offered by the administration left on the table, plus amendments from Board Members.

……….

The funding for a 1/2 time Albanian Bilingual staff member (item 61) which was cut on Monday was projected to  cost the owner of a $250,000 home 38 cents a year.  The same is true for the Korean position (item 62).  Maintaining current levels of service for Hmong Bilingual staff  (item 63) — which has not been decided yet — would cost that same home owner $3.01 a year.

……….

For 2009-10 the English Language Learner division staff to student ratio was 18.85/1.  In 2005-6 it was 16.26/1.   One FTE has been cut already; 8.5 are pending.  These are the Hmong BRS (item 63)  and High School allocations (item 60).  The ELL population is projected to grow.

……….

The proposal to make staffing levels contingent on pay freezes is an example of the Board of Education (or at least some members) attempting to avoid responsibility (Board Amendment here; news story here).  Proper staffing levels are a policy decision; we elect the Board to make these decisions.  The Board has more than sufficient revenue authority to fully staff at the recommended levels and give raises.  They are welcome to cut staffing levels if they think that is best and they are welcome to attempt to negotiate a contract with no raises, but these choices are theirs and not the unions’.   Assuming this goes forward and the unions choose raises over staffing, who would bear the responsibility for a student who was injured because an under-staffed security team could not respond fast enough?  In my book it would be the Board of Education and their desire to not use the full revenue authority.

……….

On this and related pay freeze proposals, it should be kept in mind that the projected health insurance savings mean that for all staff total compensation packages are below those budgeted.  A pay freeze combined with these savings would mean a decrease in total compensation.

……….

MMSD should keep the Legislative Liaison position, especially since the district voted to leave the Wisconsin Association of School Boards on Monday.  Recent state action and inaction may make it seem like having a liaison has not been effective; believe me, without that voice and expertise, things would be worse.

……….

Brenda Konkel got it right on the “secret straw poll” distraction.  Here is what I posted in the comments on the Cap Times editorial:

As one who follows these things closely, has attended every budget-related meeting of the Board of Education and has long advocated greater openness in all governing activities, I have to say this is being blown out of proportion.

The tally or “straw poll” was not secret nor was it a vote. It was discussed repeatedly in open meetings prior to Board Members participating. Upon request copies of the tallies were given to me and at least one other community member at the conclusion of the first meeting where it was used. A check of the tallies and the subsequent votes would reveal that they don’t match, that Board Members did change their positions when items were the subject of open deliberations.

I would have preferred that copies were public prior  to, not at the conclusion of the meeting where it was first employed, but that was a logistical issue.

……….

I was at a meeting of Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools people yesterday.  Some of the people there were amazed at the hundreds of Madisonians who came out to tell the Board of Education that they preferred tax increases to further cuts.  Some of the people were also perplexed that with this kind of support the Board of Education is cutting and considering cutting at the levels they are.  I’m perplexed too.  I’m also disappointed.

………

Near the conclusion of the April 26 Board meeting one Board Member explained voting to cut a program that “in ideal times” they would not vote to cut.  The explanation included things outside the control of the Board– tough economic times, the state actions and inaction — but it also included something like “unfortunately we live in a time when people are reluctant to pay higher taxes for education.”  The people at the hearings weren’t reluctant.   I know that most of the people who worked to elect this Board Member aren’t reluctant.  I don’t know what kind of emails the Board is getting, but I have come to think of this attitude on the part of elected officials — state and local — as the “Tea Party in their head.”   Strong majorities of he people of Madison have repeatedly made it clear that they support tax increases for education, yet our legislative delegation and now our Board of Education instead listen to voices in their heads saying the opposite.

……….

Some of the savings and efficiencies are great.  It would be nice there was some effort to allocate these to improving or expanding good things, instead of to avoid tax increases.  With the partial exceptions of shrinking Strategic Plan funding, Fine Arts and Math Task Force funding, Culturally Relevant Education and Talented and Gifted (and maybe a some other small things), there isn’t much thought or talk about improvement, about progress.  The achievement gaps continue.  Avoiding tax increases is not going to bring about a positive change there.

……….

Strong statements about the harm done by cuts to programs and services from the administration and the Board have been much too rare.  Everything they said back when they were talking about why a referendum was needed remains true, yet now we hear that larger cuts than were projected without a referendum are acceptable.  If only in support of state level school funding reform efforts, the harm being done must be made clear.

……….

I think some clarification about schedules and process is in order.  The calendar on the district web site has been out of date for some time, so here’s my attempt.

05/03/10 Board of Education Meetings Executive Session at 5:00 PM to discuss contractual matters and Legislative Liaison.

Open Meeting at 6:30 PM on Budget

05/04/10 Board of Education Workshop Meeting 5:00 PM. No public appearances. Last meeting before Preliminary Budget is Finalized. From this point forward further cuts are very difficult, especially those involving staff. Add backs are in theory easier.
05/10/10 Board of Education Meeting 6:00 PM. Regular Meeting, opportunity for Public Appearances. Budget will in all likelihood not be directly on the agenda.
05/15/10 Preliminary Budget Published
05/17/10 Budget Hearing 6:00 PM
05/24/10 Layoff Notices Due This is the due date, but logistics dictate that decisions be made weeks in advance.
06/1/10 Statutorily Required Budget Hearing and Vote The state requires advance publication of a the Budget and a hearing prior to the vote. This vote will be the last time that a simple majority can change things. After the (possibly amended) Preliminary Budget is passed, five votes are needed.
10/08/10 Revenue Limit Calculation from DPI
10/15/10 State Aid Calculation from DPI
10/25/10 Final Approval of 2010-11 Budget and Tax Levy

………
I don’t think I’ll be doing an “On the Agenda” post this week.  The agenda is here.  With one exception I think all the relevant documents are available on the Budget Page (there is a broken link in the agenda, so I’m not 100% sure).  The exception is the Cost-to-Continue Budget, partially revised to reflect the Reorganization.  That still hasn’t been posted by the district, but you can find it here.

………

Remember you can contact the Board at board@madison.k12.wi.us and please, please sign the Penny for Kids petition so there is some chance that we never have to do this again.

Thomas J. Mertz

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This and That

Catching up on some links and stories.  Some new, some old.

The initial Milwaukee Public Schools budget is out: FY11 Budget Proposal; Superintendent’s detailed overview; What’s happening in other districts?
. $33 Million in cuts and 682 jobs on the line.

Two Stories from Education WeekSchool District Funding Woes Increase and Districts Report Grim Outlook as Stimulus Fades.

A couple of letters to the editor with the right ideas: Richard Banks, “Invest in schools now, not prisons later” and Jane Albert, “Pass extra sales tax to support schools.”

Along the same lines as Jane Albert’s letter, Matt Hrodey on the Milwaukee Magazine NewsBuzz site writes all about “Our antiquated sales tax.”

As I’ve said many times, the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent SchoolsPenny for Kids campaign is the best thing going in school funding action.  Sing the petition; get involved.

The Wisconsin Way “Blue Print” is out.  It is a decidedly mixed bag, but does call for a sales tax bump to fund education.

The Reedsburg Times-Press asks “What now for schools?” and the Oshkosh Northwestern provides a reality based answer: “School closings, budget decisions fueling distrust between parents and districts.”  Depressing, but true.

In Oshkosh the problems also include “crowding, mold, mice.”

In the Dells,  “School board hears warning of budget cuts.”

One more, on a hopeful note:  “Sen. Harkin proposes $23 billion bailout for schools” (estimates of Wisconsin’s share here and here, about $400 Million).   Diluting that hope is the fact that Wisconsin — like many other states — basically used the ARRA state stabilization funds to replace state aid, resulting in a net loss for schools and that big funding cliff referenced in the second set of links.

Thomas J. Mertz

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