Act 10 Success Diminishes Recall Effort

An accurate assessment of the recall picture.

As communities continue to provide Act 10 success stories, the efforts of recall organizers against Governor Walker become more difficult. And with tax bills arriving soon, the positive results for Wisconsin taxpayers will make those recall efforts even more ominous.

Governor Walker’s reforms have produced some stunning results, turning a budget around that was structurally unsound. School districts and communities throughout the state are in much better financial shape due to the moves undertaken by the Walker administration. The following results were tabulated by the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators, based on responses from over 83% of all school districts:

  • New teacher hires outnumber layoffs by 1213 positions
  • 75% of districts maintained or decreased class sizes for K-3
  • 67% of districts maintained or decreased class sizes for 4-6
  • 92% of districts kept or expanded sports programs
  • 89% of districts kept or expanded technology support staff
  • 85% or more kept or increased their guidance, social work, and psychology staff
  • 90% of districts kept or expanded gifted and talented staff
  • 96% of districts kept or expanded early childhood staff
  • 96% of districts kept or expanded AP sections and courses
  • 82% of districts kept or expanded vocational/technical programs
  • 82% of districts kept or expanded art programs
  • 84% of districts kept or expanded music programs
  • 87% of districts kept or expanded foreign language programs

Even more telling though were the results from three districts from Southern Wisconsin that didn’t implement the reform tools.

The most telling results of the WASDA survey came from responses by the Milwaukee, Kenosha and Janesville districts. Those districts accounted for 68% of all teacher layoffs in the state, yet only represent 12.8% of Wisconsin students. These three districts did not adopt the reforms put in place by Governor Walker and Act 10, and were not able to utilize the tools offered to control costs.

So when you see the ads put out by recall organizers, liberal 3rd party groups and public sector unions keep in mind their “information” to support their claims comes from districts that didn’t utilize the tools offered via Act 10.

As pointed out, the whole picture isn’t presented:

If they were honest, they would discuss how 51% of districts reduced extracurricular programs in 2004 (according to WEAC), before Act 10 tools were available. Or the fact that over the past five years, the property tax levy has increased by an average of $181 million per year. Not so this year, as the K-12 school tax levy will actually decrease by $47 million.

Be sure to point out these successes when you encounter those pushing to recall Governor Scott Walker.  In any discussion about the direction of Wisconsin point out not only how Act 10 has been a success, point out as well the results being seen where the tools offered weren’t implemented.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta
Advertisements

School Choice Grows Amid Controvery

The details of success show why school choice needs to expand in Wisconsin.

As Messmer President and CEO the Rev. Bob Smith often puts it, education isn’t a function of test scores and homework — it’s about making better human beings.
Still Messmer boasts some pretty impressive academic achievements by Milwaukee and national education standard, arguably making the nation’s oldest voucher program a shining example of school choice.
The voucher system, allocating public money to send students — generally poor, minority students  —  to private, often faith-based, schools, opened in Milwaukee in 1990 when the state, led by then Gov. Tommy Thompson, cleared the way for the Catholic school to accept voucher students.
Robb said the early years were a struggle, a time of anxiety, when faculty, parents and students wondered whether the whims of politics would change its voucher status.
The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately decided the constitutionality of the question early last decade, just as school choice programs continued to expand.
No doubt some have been controversial, and some have failed during the past two decades, but there is no questioning the growth of school choice initiatives in Wisconsin and nationwide.
Parent interest in school choice has soared since the voucher program was implemented in Milwaukee.
In Milwaukee, 47 percent of students in the district attend a choice program outside traditional public programs, said Terry Brown, vice president of School Choice Wisconsin, which advocates for choice in education.
Some 6,400 students last year attended independent charter schools, funded by state education dollars but not affiliated with the public school system.
Another 23,198 attended Milwaukee Parental Choice Program schools, like Messmer.
The Catholic school itself has seen its voucher enrollment, which comprises about 90 percent of its student count, climb from dozens of students in 1990 to just under 1,700 students on three campuses, with waiting lists each of the past seven years, Robb said.
Despite this success, there are the usual suspects who are critical of the program.
“If people want to operate private schools they should operate private schools. People are not paying property taxes to go to the private sector,” said John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teacher’s Inc., the teachers union in the Madison Metropolitan School District.
For Matthews and other critics of school choice programs, the broader problem with independent charters is that they are not organized by the same organizational structures as public school systems, and that leads to a question of accountability.
There also have been concerns that privately run schools on the public dime have been allowed to “cherry pick” their students, selecting the best achievers, leaving behind special needs populations.
The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, along with groups like Disability Rights Wisconsin, last year filed a discrimination lawsuit against Messmer and other voucher schools, as well as DPI and the state, arguing the system “discriminated against students with disabilities”.
Ultimately it’s baseless criticism based on misconceptions.
Messmer’s enrollment includes about 150 students classified under special needs criteria, Robb said.
And, charter schools are bound to take in black and Hispanic students, among the poorest of the poor in Milwaukee. Messmer’s free-and-reduced lunch population has approached 90 percent.
In the end school choice continues to see success because it ends the “monopoly” known as public education.
The success of school choice programs, Brown said, boils down to consumer confidence.
“I think parents vote with their feet, not only when it comes to the academics of the school but the safety of the school and the character of the school,” he said.
Groups like School Choice Wisconsin say competition in America’s bruised education system is not only good for students and families, it’s good for public education. The more choice — the more success outside the traditional public school system — the greater the education success at large, they argue.
Brown and other choice proponents assert education unions have stymied success in a public school system that is stuck in 19th century state of mind. He said too many in public education want to “protect a monopoly.”
But why not fix the existing public education system, at the very least devoting the public money from choice programs into public schools? That’s a question choice critics have long asked.
“As a state we need to remind ourselves that while parents obviously support the roll of governmental funding in education, that doesn’t equal parental support of the government to run everything in schools,” Brown said.
Understanding the success of school choice has seen in Milwaukee and recognizing the misconceptions pushed by critics are the key to getting strong public support for expanding the program to cities like Green Bay.
Discover the benefits of private education during School Choice Week which runs through January 28.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Why Cheer For Scott Walker

English: Scott Walker, 45th Governor of Wisconsin

Image via Wikipedia

A great columnpointing out why to cheer for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is currently the target of a recall effort spearheaded by national public employee unions. If his opponents get enough signatures by Jan. 17, Wisconsin will hold a gubernatorial election this summer. The outcome is crucial to the future of the country.

Wisconsin has emerged as a central battleground in the fight over the outsized political role played by, and the enormous privileges enjoyed by, public employee unions. The collective bargaining entitlement enables public sector workers to extract excessive compensation, benefits, and pension packages at the expense of taxpayers.

In March, Walker signed what is now nationally famous legislation that reformed public employee collective bargaining. The bill was crucial to putting Wisconsin on a sustainable fiscal path. Public employee unions fought bitterly, albeit unsuccessfully, to block Walker’s reforms. Now they are trying to recall him.

And as those of us in Wisconsin have seen, the reforms ARE working.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which opposed Walker’s collective bargaining reforms, recently noted, “The governor did balance the budget … he did reduce the structural deficit significantly; he did put a lid on property tax increases; he did give schools and municipalities more control over their budgets than they’ve had in years.”

What’s more, the reforms pushed by Walker are themselves already having a beneficial effect. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was Walker’s opponent in the 2010 election and later attacked his proposals to reform collective bargaining. But with the reforms on the books, Barrett used some of the bill’s provisions to help reduce the city’s health care bill, saying that the alternative was to cut 300 to 400 city jobs.

The fact is these reforms in collective bargaining were needed and are needed in states across the country.  This is why:

Collective bargaining reform is also needed to enable genuine education reform. The collective bargaining privilege gives teacher unions political power that is used to block reform efforts and shield K-12 education from entrepreneurial disruptions that threaten established ways of doing things.

In a recent discussion, Walker told me that “collective bargaining in the public sector is not a right; it’s an expensive entitlement.” The struggle to rein in and reform expensive entitlements will define American politics for the next generation.

If you understand why the accomplishments of Governor Walker should be cheered, then you understand why the Left will stop at nothing in their attempt to recall him.  And that is why every effort to ensure another victory for Governor Walker needs to be employed by Conservatives.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Green Bay possible host for WIAA state basketball tournaments

Potential good news for the Green Bay area.

Madison’s place as host to the WIAA state basketball tournaments has outlasted The Great Depression, World War II and the disco era, but it might not survive growing pressure to reserve the Kohl Center for University of Wisconsin sports during March.

WIAA executive director Dave Anderson said Friday the state’s governing body for high school sports is actively seeking a new home for its state boys and girls basketball tournaments, as early as 2012-13.

After holding the boys tournament in Madison for 91 of the past 92 years, that might mean taking both tournaments to Green Bay or Milwaukee.

Anderson told the WIAA Board of Control that PMI Entertainment Group, which represents the Resch Center in Green Bay, has made an official offer to host the tournaments beginning in 2014. He said the WIAA also has inquired about the availability of the U.S. Cellular Arena in Milwaukee to host the state tournaments for the two sports that are the WIAA’s biggest moneymakers.

It’s all but a given that beginning in 2014 both tournaments will need a new home.

“We have reached out to other venues, knowing that we’re certainly going to need a home for our tournaments by 2014,” said Anderson, whose association is under contract with UW to hold the state basketball tournaments on the Madison campus through 2013 but has been told that conflicts could force both tournaments to be moved from the Kohl Center.

“It’s a given. Whether that home is a facility in Madison, a facility in Milwaukee or a facility in Green Bay. We’re limited.”

So just what are the conflicts that are causing the WIAA to look at alternative sites?  One is the new Big Ten Hockey conference.

The long-term conflicts include the dynamics of the Big Ten men’s hockey conference, which debuts during the 2013-14 season.

The conference announced in June it will use a two-week postseason format that begins with the four lowest seeds meeting in a best-of-three series at the home of the highest seed. The winners will advance to face the top two seeds at the home of the No. 1 seed the next week.

The economic benefits in Green Bay could be huge if the tournaments were hosted here.

The 12 WIAA state tournaments held on the UW campus have an estimated economic impact of $10 million on the city of Madison and Dane County, according to Greater Madison Visitor and Convention Bureau figures. Boys and girls basketball, which bring in more than $3 million of the WIAA’s $6 million in annual revenue, account for most of that.

Were you disappointed when the WIAA moved the boys sectional tournaments from Green Bay?  If so start letting them know that you want the state tournaments to be held here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Share