A budget or two ago, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker cut nearly a billion dollars out of state support for public education. In the last budget some of that money trickled back into the pipeline. But during the last election cycle dozens of rural and urban school districts held successful referenda to exceed the state imposed taxing caps so they could continue to run their school districts. Many of those were rural schools who are truly suffering under the caps and reductions in state supports.

I wrote about this unfortunate phenomena back in September 2015.

But low and behold, with a gubernatorial race staring him in the face in 2018, Governor Walker is finding funds to help rural public schools in Wisconsin and he had to get it out there before Department of Public Instruction State Superintendent Tony Evers could make much hay with a similar proposal. Mr. Evers is running for re-election in the spring 2017 cycle with very similar funding proposals.

But here’s Governor Walker:

Gov. Scott Walker plans to offer more support to Wisconsin’s rural schools by funneling $20 million more to sparsely populated school districts and offering $10 million more for high-cost transportation aid, according to a statement released Wednesday.

He also wants to increase technology grant funding by more than $22 million, create a new training pathway for rural paraprofessionals to become full-time teachers, and put an additional $1 million in the budget to support school fabrication labs.

The proposals represent Walker’s first concrete plans for increasing funding to K-12 schools as part of his 2017-’19 state budget plan. They come as State Superintendent Tony Evers is making his own push to increase funding for all schools, and as Walker, a Republican, feels pressure from his party’s rural lawmakers who have increasingly heard from their local school administrators and parents about tight school resources.

And then he had to gloat:

Walker’s statement pointed out that his plan to increase sparsity aid by $20 million was $12.3 million more than Evers requested and that his plan would total a $55.4 million investment in that aid over the two-year budget.

So Governor Walker put the hurt on public education state wide and now comes on as the knight in shining armor to save the day…just before reelection time. How convenient!

But fie on the Democratic party for not doing enough to get out in front of this in 2016 or 2015. It could have been a real hallmark if they’d listened and taken it up.

Instead Walker is taking credit for solving his own mess…and being given credit to listening to the state.

I think a lot of this is the result of the governor’s listening sessions around the state. And I think he heard pretty loud and clear from rural areas” that schools are struggling, said state Rep. Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander)…

sigh.

2 Responses to Walker Style Crisis Management: Rural Education

  1. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    Let’s not break out the party hats quite yet. These moves don’t affect 2/3 of the districts in the state, and let’s see if those districts are given any funding or relief from the handcuffs of revenue limits. Dems should be out in front and demanding this, but I bet they won’t (though Shilling and others were good to point out that these Walker moves are far too little, far too late).

    I’m not betting on it, and I wonder if those rural districts will still be up against it after the budget comes out with this in mind.

  2. Sue says:

    He’s throwing the rural districts a bone hoping they’ll forget that their children are drinking shit-water.
    Can’t have everything, you know.

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