Governor Scott Walker’s efforts to improve Wisconsin’s education system are paying huge dividends for students and teachers in the Badger State. In a new Milwaukee Journal Sentinel column, Christian Schneider highlights Governor Walker’s accomplishments in expanding access to private education and improving funding flexibility throughout his state. As Governor Walker remains committed to strengthening schools across Wisconsin, he continues to show that he is the education governor his state needs.
Christian Schneider writes for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
“When Gov. Scott Walker earlier this week declared himself to be the ‘education governor,’ he might as well have been holding a vampire convention where he served garlic bread. Horrified Democrats immediately dredged up memories of Walker’s public sector union fights, calling him a ‘disaster’ for public education…
To the left, ‘education’ is measured by a sole metric — how much money the state is spending to send kids to public schools. To Democrats, spending more money is always good, as it is a measure of compassion. Conversely, spending less money than Democrats want is akin to, as former State Sen. Bob Jauch was fond of saying, ‘taking a meat ax to the children of the state.’
Walker, on the other hand, has challenged the narrow meaning of the word ‘education.’ During the Act 10 debate, he argued mere spending increases didn’t do kids any good if they were primarily used to prop up lavish health and pension benefits for public school teachers. His reforms both poured more money into classrooms and allowed school districts more flexibility in hiring younger, more dynamic teachers. No longer are districts hamstrung by turgid union rules meant to benefit the teaching establishment over kids.
Further, ‘education’ doesn’t take place solely in public schools. Walker has expanded private school choice statewide, allowing low-income parents the option to choose how their children are best served. The year before Walker took over, slightly more than 20,000 Wisconsin kids were educated in voucher schools; by 2017, 33,000 children were enrolled in the program statewide.
To state Democrats, it is as if these children disappear from Wisconsin once they enter a non-government-run school. But they are getting a good education; if they weren’t, parents would flee the program en masse. (There is a reason private schools have traditionally been seen as a perk only for the rich — since they aren’t in public schools, are these wealthy children also not getting an education?)
To the parents whose kids have been able to escape low-performing public schools in order to help their children, Walker is absolutely an ‘education governor.’
Even by the metric most favored by Walker’s competitors — state spending — he comes out ahead. Wisconsin now spends nearly $600 million more per year on public K-12 education than it did in Gov. Jim Doyle’s last year in office.
This contradicts the bogus claims by Walker’s opponents that he ‘took a billion dollars’ from public schools — not only is the state spending more, but the state aid he did initially cut was backfilled by increased teacher contributions to their own benefits. Ignoring this fact means pretending all the teachers marching on the Capitol to spare their health and pension benefits never happened.
Walker has shown that public schools don’t own the word ‘education.’ He’s demonstrated that there are any number of ways kids can learn, whether they’re in a traditional public, choice, charter or virtual school.
He’s also proven that a politician can succeed in upending the education establishment. And that is something from which we can all learn.”