State Superintendent Talks On K-12 Public School Funding | Wisconsin Public Television

State Superintendent Talks On K-12 Public School Funding

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Premiere Date: 
May 22, 2015

State Superintendent Talks On K-12 Public School Funding

State Superintendent Tony Evers leads the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Episode Transcript

FREDERICA FREYBERG:
 THE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION SAYS WHAT THE BUDGET COMMITTEE DID, QUOTE, ERODES THE BASIC FOUNDATION OF WISCONSIN'S PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM. TONY EVERS JOINS US NOW. AND THANKS VERY MUCH FOR BEING HERE.

TONY EVERS:
 GREAT TO BE HERE. THANK YOU.  

FREDERICA FREYBERG:
 HOW DOES THIS BUDGET DO THAT - ERODE THE BASIC FOUNDATION OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS?  

TONY EVERS:
 THERE'S MANY PLACES. ONE IS IF YOU KIND OF - THE MOVING PARTS ON THIS IS SO COMPLEX, BUT IF YOU KIND OF LOOK AT BOTTOM LINE THE FIRST YEAR OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS WILL HAVE NO MORE MONEY. REVENUE LIMITS WILL BE ZERO. SECOND YEAR REVENUE LIMITS WILL BE ZERO, BUT THEY FOLDED IN SOME NEW CATEGORICAL AID THAT WILL BE CHIPPED AWAY WITH EXPANDING VOUCHERS AND SO ON AND SO FORTH. ESSENTIALLY, I MEAN THERE MIGHT BE AN UPPER THE SECOND YEAR, BUT IT'S NOT EVEN GOING TO BE I DON'T THINK INFLATIONARY. SO CONTINUING CUTS AFTER CUTS AFTER CUTS, ASKING PEOPLE TO DO MORE AFTER MORE AFTER MORE, THAT'S REALLY A DOWNHILL SLIDE FOR ME. IN ADDITION, THEY MADE SOME REALLY I THINK EGREGIOUS CHANGES TO THE WAY WE LICENSE TEACHERS AND HAVE THEM BE PROFESSIONALS GOING INTO THE CLASSROOM AND THAT LONG-TERM WILL BE A MAJOR ISSUE FOR US, TOO. BUT THERE'S A MYRIAD OF THINGS THAT I KNOW WE'LL NEVER GET TO TALK ABOUT TODAY, BUT THOSE ARE TWO IMPORTANT ONES.  

FREDERICA FREYBERG:
 ON THE FUNDING OVER THE BIENNIUM, THE MAJORITY DID RESTORE THE GOVERNOR'S $127 MILLION CUT. IN FACT, ONE REPUBLICAN ON THE COMMITTEE SAYS THAT ADDING FUNDING IN THE SECOND YEAR MEANS THEY WENT, QUOTE, ABOVE AND BEYOND RESTORING FUNDS TO K-12 EDUCATION BUT NOT CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION IN YOUR MIND.  

TONY EVERS:
 NOT CAUSE. THERE SHOULDN'T BE ANY -- THERE'S NO HEROES HERE. I'LL TELL YOU THAT. NOBODY SHOULD BE TAKING LAPS AROUND THE SQUARE, VICTORY LAPS AROUND THE SQUARE. BOTTOM LINE, IN THE FIRST YEAR IT'S ZERO PERCENT. YES, IT CAME FROM A PLACE OF $127 MILLION DOWN. BUT THE QUESTION I HAVE IS NOTHING CHANGED IN THE REVENUE PROJECTIONS. SO WHY WAS THERE A $127 MILLION HOLE TO BEGIN WITH? IF THEY HAD THE MONEY ALL ALONG, WHY DID THEY START WITH A $127 MILLION HOLE? VERY SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY, I THINK. SO FIRST YEAR, ZERO. SECOND YEAR, $100 IN CATEGORICAL AID. AND THERE’S AN INCREASE IN GENERAL AID BUT THE INCREASE IN GENERAL AID GOES RIGHT TO THE PROPERTY TAX LEVY. IT DOESN'T HELP PUBLIC SCHOOLS.


FREDERICA FREYBERG:
 WHAT ABOUT THE EXPANSION OF VOUCHER SCHOOLS AND THE 1% MOVING ON OVER THE DECADE?  

TONY EVERS:
 WELL, WE'VE NOW CREATED -- WE'VE OFFICIALLY CREATED TWO SEPARATE SYSTEMS. ONE THAT SEEMS TO BE PREFERRED IN THE LEGISLATORS' MINDS, BECAUSE THE PERCENTAGE INCREASE FOR CHOICE SCHOOLS IS HIGHER THAN THE PERCENTAGE INCREASE FOR TRADITIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN BOTH YEARS OF THE BIENNIUM. SO THAT SYSTEM APPARENTLY WILL HAVE EQUITY GOING FORWARD. WHEREAS NOW OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS, ESSENTIALLY THE LEGISLATURE IS SAYING TO THEM IF YOU WANT TO THRIVE, YOU NEED TO GO TO REFERENDUM. AND ONLY 60% TO 70% WILL PASS THOSE REFERENDUM.  

FREDERICA FREYBERG:
 VOUCHER SCHOOLS, THE EXPANSION OF THOSE – IT’S KIND OF BEEN ON THE MARCH FOR YEARS HERE, BUT YOU FIND THIS PARTICULARLY PERNICIOUS?  

TONY EVERS:
 WELL, WE HAVE NOW CREATED A WHOLE SYSTEM, WHOLE SECOND SYSTEM. YOU KNOW, THE ARGUMENT REALLY ISN'T AROUND WHETHER THIS IS A PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS, BUT IT'S USING PUBLIC MONEY TO FUND PRIVATE SCHOOLS. MOST OF THOSE KIDS ARE ALREADY IN THE CHOICE -- IN THE PAROCHIAL AND PRIVATE SCHOOLS. SO BASICALLY WHAT WE'RE DOING IS ESSENTIALLY SAYING WE WANT TO FINANCIALLY SUPPORT OF THE STATE, OUR PRIVATE SYSTEM.  

FREDERICA FREYBERG:
 YOU DESCRIBE HOW PUBLIC SCHOOLS WILL HAVE LESS GENERAL AID THAN IN 2010.  

TONY EVERS:
 RIGHT.  

FREDERICA FREYBERG:
 HOW WILL THAT LOOK IN THE CLASSROOM?  

TONY EVERS:
 WELL, IT'S GOING TO BE -- I MEAN, THE INCREASES ARE SO MARGINAL IN THE SECOND YEAR, IT'S GOING TO BE LARGER CLASS SIZES. IT'S GOING TO BE LESS MATERIALS. IT’S GOING TO BE LESS TECHNOLOGY PURCHASES. THERE'S JUST NO WAY WE CAN CONTINUE TO HAVE A SYSTEM THAT IS TAKING ZERO PERCENT OR ALMOST ZERO PERCENT YEAR AFTER YEAR WHEN ANY HOMEOWNER IN THE STATE KNOWS THAT THE COSTS ARE GOING UP -  GASOLINE, HEATING, UTILITIES, SO ON AND SO FORTH.  

FREDERICA FREYBERG:
 ON THE NEW KIND OF OPTIONS, PATHWAYS FOR TEACHERS TO GET INTO THE CLASSROOM, WHICH YOU SPOKE TO BRIEFLY, THAT WOULD JUST BE FOR TECH ED IN TERMS OF TEACHERS ONLY HAVING TO HAVE A HIGH SCHOOL DEGREE. WHY DOES THAT PLANT WISCONSIN AT THE BOTTOM NATIONALLY?  

TONY EVERS:
 WELL, IT'S THE SECOND PART -- WELL, THAT IN AND OF ITSELF IS A LITTLE PERNICIOUS, BUT THE BOTTOM PART OF THAT PIECE IN THE LEGISLATION IS THEY SAID ANYONE THAT HAS A BACHELOR'S DEGREE IN SOCIAL STUDIES, MATHEMATICS, SCIENCE AND ENGLISH AT THE HIGH SCHOOL OR MIDDLE SCHOOL LEVEL. THAT'S ALL YOU HAVE TO HAVE. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS GO TO A LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT AND CONVINCE THEM YOU KNOW HOW TO TEACH. THE LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT SAYS TO THE DPI, GIVE THIS PERSON A LICENCSE. WE HAVE TO GIVE THEM A LICENSE. IT ESSENTIALLY TAKES THE LICENSING SYSTEM OUT OF THE STATE'S HAND, PUTS IT IN 424 SCHOOL DISTRICTS' HANDS SO. IF YOU'RE A BUDDY OF THE SUPERINTENDENT, OF THE PRINCIPAL, YOU GO IN SAY, GOSH, I WANT TO TEACH HERE, HE OR SHE SAYS YES, YOU GOT A LICENSE.  

FREDERICA FREYBERG:
 I WANTED TO ASK YOU MORE ABOUT THAT BUT WE NEED TO LEAVE IT THERE. TONY EVERS, THANKS VERY MUCH.  

TONY EVERS:
 THANK YOU.  
 

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