As the husband of a teacher and a father of four children, Tom understands the complex issues that face our education system.
Tom has been one of the fiercest advocates for education in Wisconsin. In Congress, he fought for millions in funding for Wisconsin schools, and he led the charge for SAGE funding to reduce classroom sizes, ensuring kids get more individual attention from teachers.
As mayor, Tom has fought for reform to turn around failing schools. He also launched the Youth Summer Jobs Program, placing Milwaukee high school students in the workplace to give young people real world job experience. More than 3,000 Milwaukee teens have participated in the program.
Quality K-12 Education for Milwaukee's Children
Tom knows that education has never been more important than it is today. It’s no secret that Milwaukee schools are facing very difficult decisions as a result of the worst economic downturn in generations. Tom has vouched for reforming the Wisconsin school finance system so that we can continue our long tradition of excellent public education, and to bring school budgeting out of the world of formulas and into reality.
High-quality and Affordable Higher Education
Wisconsin’s colleges and universities are valuable assets to our state’s economic engine. Tom understands that we must work together to make college more affordable and accessible for working and middle class families. The reality of today’s global economy is that many of the good-paying jobs require an education beyond high school. To keep Wisconsin working, we must make a commitment to our state’s colleges, technical schools, and four-year universities to educate our children and retrain our workforce for the jobs of tomorrow.
Wisconsin has the most industrious workforce in the country; Tom knows we must make sure it’s the most highly skilled and versatile. We must make sure our education system – from kindergarten to technical schools and colleges – empowers the people of our state with the skills to be competitive in a global economy. Tom knows we must also invest in world-class research and development initiatives that improve quality of life with groundbreaking advances, while also harnessing cutting-edge technology to create the jobs for a 21st century economy.
Scott Walker's Record of Failure on Education
Our schools are not "the same or better:" The fundamental truth of K-12 education in Wisconsin is that our schools are far worse off under Governor Walker.
- Historic cuts to education: Walker and the republicans in the legislature have cut public school funding by $1.6 billion.
- Despite what Walker says, our schools are not "the same or better:" As a result of Walker’s cuts, school districts across the state are reporting larger class sizes, reductions in academic and extra-curricular offerings, and an overall decline in the quality of education.
- New data makes this clear: DPI reported that Wisconsin school districts cut 2,312 positions for the 2011-12 school year, representing a 50 percent increase in staff losses from the previous school year. Statewide, 73 percent of districts reported cutting teachers this year.
- Librarians are an "endangered species:" The largest position cuts statewide affected school librarians, as well as teachers of career and technical education, special education, and reading. For the current school year, there are also 414 fewer elementary teachers in public schools.
- Without federal support, things would have been worse: It is important to note that the numbers reported by the DPI take into account the use of federal EduJobs money that was provided by Congress and the President. Without these federal EduJobs dollars, things in Wisconsin public schools would be far worse.
Our state’s social and economic future depends on the quality of our schools: Today, our state’s future depends on our young people receiving high-quality education that will pave the way for social and economic improvement. Given this critical situation, it is especially troubling that Governor Walker is choosing to make cuts.
Our state is heading in the wrong direction in dealing with education
- For the first time in our state’s history, there is good reason to believe that unless we change course quickly, the best days of Wisconsin schooling will be behind us.
- Walker has set schools up to fail: Scott Walker has repeatedly told school district leaders that they simply need to "use the tools" that he has provided through Act 10 to make up for losses in state aid and revenue limit authority. The fact is that for the vast majority of school districts, Act 10 cannot make up for their significant losses in state aid and revenue limit authority, unless school boards are willing to be entirely unreasonable about salaries and benefits.
Tom Barrett Will Undo the Damage Caused by Scott Walker and Fix the Broken System
- Undoing Walker’s cuts is possible: Education is an investment in our children and our state. Undoing Walker’s cuts is a matter of priority. Budgets reflect the morals and ideals of the state, and our budget needs to reflect the value that we see in our children, our schools, and the future of our communities.
- We must fix the broken system: We cannot forget that underlying Act 10 and all of the cuts that have been made to public education is a fundamentally broken school finance system. As we move forward, we need to understand that we will need to make some significant changes to the system.
The Evers Plan: Fair Funding for Our Future
State Superintendent Evers' plan, Fair Funding for Our Future, presents a well thought-out strategy for addressing the structural problems of our broken system. While any change in school funding will create winners and losers, Evers' plan will result in far fewer losses than other options. At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that Evers' plan will change structures but not necessarily add new money to the system. It does not offer a "silver bullet" for our revenue problems.
The Evers plan has a number of important benefits:
- It guarantees a minimum of $3,000 in state funding for every student, offering vital resources for the 54 school districts in our state that currently receive little or no state aid.
- It incorporates the poverty factor into the formula, accounting for families' ability to pay and not just their property value.
- It makes technical changes in the school funding formula that strengthen rural districts and districts facing declining student enrollment.
- It establishes predictable growth in state aid (by the greater of 2 percent or CPI), creating a more sustainable system.
- It provides for some growth in revenue limits, which allows for both a modest increase in school spending and the protection of taxpayers.
- It ends the school funding "shell game" by redirecting the school levy tax credit into general school aid.