Education is the key to Wisconsin's economic success.
But for the last decade, our public schools and colleges have taken hit after hit.
Last year, Governor Walker and the Legislature enacted the biggest cuts to education in our state's history. They cut aid to public school districts by $792 million, reduced support to technical colleges by $72 million, and slashed the University of Wisconsin system by $250 million.
In our elementary and secondary schools, class sizes have increased. High schools have been forced to drop courses. Thousands of dedicated teachers are demoralized.
Higher education is also in crisis. Hundreds of qualified students have abandoned their plans of going to college--or have dropped out--because of rising tuition. The UW system has increased tuition for five consecutive years, pushing up the price of college by more than 30%.
It's not just students who have been hurt. When Wisconsin doesn't invest in educating our young people, the state's economy suffers. Employers can't fill job vacancies, or they hire non-Wisconsinites. Worse, they leave Wisconsin altogether to create jobs in other states--or countries--that supply them with the educated workforce they need to compete.
As your state Representative, I will work to improve the state's education system.
* To begin with, we need to restore fairness to the school aid formula. Educating the children of Milwaukee, West Allis, West Milwaukee and Greenfield is just as important as educating those who live in wealthier suburbs. What we spend to educate the K-12 students of the 7th Assembly District should not be less than the amount spent to educate similar groups of students anywhere else in Wisconsin. I will fight for an equitable formula for school aid so that all of our children can receive a first-class education, no matter what school a student attends.
* We also need to hold down tuition in the Wisconsin Technical College system and the UW system. One of the Badger State's traditional strengths has been the ability of middle-class families to send their children to technical colleges and University of Wisconsin schools. But more and more students can't afford the rapidly rising tuition. We need to end the tuition squeeze on the middle class by holding down the cost of going to college.
* I also support re-establishing collective bargaining rights for Wisconsin's teachers and other public employees. Teachers did not cause the state's budget crisis--the economy and out-of-control health care costs are the problem. Teachers deserve our respect and the right to bargain, as do all workers.
Wisconsin's education system was once a system that everyone was proud of. Now, many of us worry that it's losing ground. The answer is to strengthen our schools, colleges, and universities by making them excellent and affordable.