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Counseling Psychology News

Message to Wisconsin's Education Community

June 07, 2011

The following statement was issued on Thursday, April 14, by the UW-Madison School of Education's Administrative Council. It was distributed to SoE alumni and education administrators across the state.

The UW-Madison School of Education faculty and staff profoundly respect and admire our Wisconsin teachers, and empathize with them as their profession and schools face seemingly insurmountable challenges with the proposed state budget.

Wisconsin’s high quality teaching force sends well-prepared and talented students to UW-Madison. The campus and the School of Education benefit directly from the wonderful work that K-12 educators do with the children who end up being our students.

The budget proposal will cause irreparable damage to K-12 education in Wisconsin, and will ultimately hurt our children. We cannot ask schools to do more with less while expecting the same results. This proposal also has the potential to shatter relationships among educators, school administrators and Boards, and to undermine the quality of education across the state.

The Governor's Executive Budget calls for a $390.5 million per year reduction in general school aid (an 8.4 percent reduction from this year's level) and a $43.1 million per year decrease in categorical aid (a decline of 7.1 percent).  Each school district's revenue limit (the sum of general aid and property tax levy) would be reduced by 5.5 percent. Based on a model of the impact of the proposed reduction in revenue limits, the average reduction would equal about $550 per student.

Agreed upon reductions in teacher compensation (in the form of larger pension and health insurance payments) will help school districts balance their budgets. However, the combination of rising costs of energy and other necessary school district expenditures, the reductions in state aid and revenue limits, and likely cuts in federal education aid, suggest that most school districts will be forced to reduce academic programs, increase class sizes, and take other strategies to reduce public spending on education.

If the budget passes, we will experience a demoralized workforce and lose the ability to attract excellent teachers to Wisconsin, a state with a proud history of valuing education.  Many school districts will have no choice but to lay off teachers. They will be forced to increase class sizes, cut courses, cut programs, and eliminate preparation and professional development time for teachers. All of these result in lower quality education in Wisconsin.

Quality education requires quality teachers. To attract quality people to this profession and to this state, we must treat teachers fairly and compensate them for their hard work.

Damaging education now will have long-term negative social and economic consequences for children, families and their communities across Wisconsin.

The School of Education's administrative council opposes the proposed cuts to public education in Wisconsin. We, as stewards of Wisconsin education, have a responsibility to stand with teachers and leaders of education across the state to protect our children’s right to fair and appropriate educational opportunities.

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