As it often does, Wisconsin's government, Republican or Democrat, over-reacted to a problem and has now created a more serious challenge through the "Law of Unintended Consequences." The Legislature passed a series of anti-fraud and belt-tightening measures in 2006 aimed at a very few child care agencies that were defrauding the government. The unintended consequences were that the statutory changes ended up affecting all child care programs statewide that were participating in Wisconsin Shares, regardless of whether or not they had committed fraud. This policy brief by the Wisconsin Council of Children and Families (WCCF) demonstrates that only 23 percent of the child care slots for children statewide can be purchased under the rates frozen into place by the changes to the law in 2006. The welcome news is that the rate freeze was ended in the 2013-15 budget, and the Department of Children and Families is planning on modest increases in child care payments in 2014-15. The...Read more
About: Tom Beebe
Recent Posts by Tom Beebe
By now we've all settled in to the reality that the opportunities for our children to receive a world-class education have been diminished by the public policy passed by the Wisconsin Legislature - and signed by the Governor - over the last two budgets. Don't blink, though, because the next shoe has dropped. While public schools were losing hundreds of millions of dollars in resources, the money lawmakers "saved" on the backs of kids was given away in the form of a sizable income tax cut. We all know the history. As a result of the 2011-13 budget our public school children lost $1.6 billion in classes, teachers, programs, and services. That contributed to a cut of 15.3 percent in spending per pupil since 2008 (the seventh largest cut in the country). The last time around, the 2013-15 budget, vouchers were expanded statewide with public tax dollars that didn't go to public schools. After doing all of that, "Wisconsin cut personal...Read more
By Julie Underwood Dean of the School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison If you are paying attention to legislative debates or media reports, you may get the impression that our schools are failing and that many people have turned their backs on this uniquely American public institution. The truth, however, is that we should feel good about many of the results our public schools and teachers are delivering. With that in mind, American Education Week (Nov. 18 to 22) presents a golden opportunity to celebrate public schools, to honor those who are making a difference in children's lives and to strive to ensure that every child has access to a free, high-quality education. Unfortunately, not everyone shares these values. The push to privatize public education is growing, with Wisconsin becoming a virtual ground zero for universal vouchers and the channeling of public funds to private schools with little to no public accountability. Meanwhile, due to a range of pressures on state budgets, ongoing...Read more
A new voice has joined the struggle to promote our public schools and stop the "coordinated, well-financed ideological attack on the very idea of free, excellent public schools that are open to every child." The Progressive, a nationally known magazine headquartered in Madison since 1909, has launched "Public School Shakedown", a website "intended to lay out the threat to public education." In addition, the magazine has committed to being “a journalistic platform that makes ..... information immediately accessible ..... (and) ..... to localize it with articles that put a human face on policy matters." "Wisconsin is ground zero for the nationwide school privatization drive," said The Progressive's editor Ruth Conniff. "From our base in Madison we have made the attack on public schools a particular focus of our reporting." Special features of Public School Shakedown are:Read more
- • Live chats with national figures in the pro-public school movement.
- • Original reporting about the behind-the-scenes efforts to privatize our public schools.
- • Breaking news...
Despite efforts to offer opportunities for children in southeast Wisconsin to experience diverse educational experiences in each others' schools disparities in achievement by income and race remain large. On Thursday, Nov. 21, people will have a chance to talk about these programs, some that have been in effect since the mid-1970s, and their impact. A free program will examine trends and explore the lessons for public policy going forward. The program will begin at 6 p.m. at Marquette Law School, Eckstein Hall. Since the mid-1970s, thousands of students who live in Milwaukee have attended public schools in the suburbs, while a smaller number of suburban students have enrolled in Milwaukee Public Schools through now-two state programs. Chapter 220 is a voluntary program enabling students of color in the city to enroll in participating and available suburban districts. The second, “open enrollment,” is a statewide program dating to 1997. It permits enrollment of a student in any participating and available...Read more
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