This is just a quick follow up on the article that I should have written a month ago. But 35 principals wrote a letter to Governor Walker and the Wisconsin legislature to protest the budget cuts to public education. Here is the text of their letter:
Southern Wisconsin Area Principals
July 13, 2015
To Gov. Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Legislature:
It is an honor to represent our excellent school districts in this great state of Wisconsin. To build a better educational system, high school principals representing large, medium, and small districts from Southern Wisconsin request to collaborate with you. We wish to share our collective perspective regarding our vision of all public schools.
Together, our school districts serve to prepare students to be thoughtful and productive contributing members of society. When considering ACT test scores, Wisconsin has ranked amongst the best in the nation for nearly 30 years with many years as #1 in the U.S. We desire to maintain and build upon foundations like this. We are grateful for the contributions of students, teachers, administrators, support staff, community members, business partners, parents, school board members and other citizens who have helped build strong foundations for learning in our communities. The ongoing financial, emotional and human support that our communities provide to our school districts inspire all students to reach their own personal and academic success. When these crucial resources work together, we gain strength as a community and as a state.
America is unique because its public schools make and deliver on the bold promise to freely educate all children regardless of wealth, religion, race, gender, ability or citizenship. This becomes clear when comparing America to other nations with successful educational systems such as Finland, Germany, Norway, and Japan. As leaders of public schools, we believe in the power of a collective vision to mobilize individuals in our communities to affect positive change in their lives. We embrace continuous school improvement efforts to ensure that all students reach their full potential. To that end, we support state assessments for accountability and transparency, attracting and retaining highly qualified teachers and school leaders and creating a consistent equitable funding plan for Wisconsin.
The reduced power of local school boards as it relates to curriculum, policy, funding, testing, calendar, and other issues concerns us. The people in local communities have far less voice today than they did only a few decades ago. Governor Walker, you speak of the need to reduce “Big Government,” and we see that you are doing so as it relates to eliminating positions in government, but the “power of the people, by the people, for the people” is less in people’s hands than it once was. Our school board members are locally elected officials. These same people work, live, and die in our communities. Citizens trust these locally elected officials to set policy and support education in our communities. These respected school board members have far less control over local decisions than they did in the past.
We are concerned about the competitive nature and business model schools now face. As life-long learners, we study other nations and other states experienced with this competitive business model. The research clearly points to a result of segregated schools. This model results in the “haves and have nots.” This exclusionary system does not reflect the land of opportunity for which our nation is well known and will reduce opportunity for future leaders who may be the next Rosa Parks or Steve Jobs.
We ask you to partner with us to address the significant challenges our schools are facing. We do not support recent budgets and the underfunding of public education. We believe budgets need to be adjusted to meet the needs of today’s learners. Since the onset of revenue limits in 1992, our school districts have been reducing and eliminating programs and resources. We are burdened by the cumulative effects of budget cuts resulting in increased class sizes, cut programs, and deferred maintenance plans. Additionally, we must keep pace with technology demands and provide necessary support services for students. Our districts are struggling to maintain our current educational and co-curricular programs, while recognizing we need to expand educational opportunities and choices for students and families to prepare students for 21st century skills in a globally competitive climate.
We know building world-class public school districts takes time and great effort. The children and citizens of our communities deserve our best efforts and our state’s full commitment. We respectfully request teachers and school administrators be allowed a voice in important educational decisions in Madison. It is imperative we address these challenges together as we redefine excellence in education in our communities and across Wisconsin.
Thank you for the opportunity to share our collective perspective. We look forward to working with our governor and legislature to assure the successful education of Wisconsin’s children and youth, for it is our privilege to do so.
Southern Wisconsin Area Principals:
Arrowhead- Gregg Wieczorek Evansville- Scott Everson Oregon- Jim Pliner
Beaver Dam- Mark DiStefano Fort Atkinson- Dan Halversen Palmyra-Eagle- Kari Timm
Belleville- Nathan Perry Horicon- Teresa Graven Pardeeville- Jason LeMay
Beloit Turner- Ryan Bertelsen Jefferson- Mark Rollefson Parkview- William Trow
Big Foot- Mike Hinske Johnson Creek- Cale Vogel Randolph- Debra Torrison
Brodhead- Jim Matthys Kettle Moraine- Jeff Walters Rio- Dana Tait
Clinton- J. Gile Lake Mills- Pam Streich Sauk Prairie- Chad Harnisch
Columbus- Jacob Ekern Marshall- Brian Sniff Watertown- Scott Mantei
DeForest- Machell Schwarz McFarland- James Hickey Waukesha North- Jody Landish
Dodgeland- Jeff Saur Milton- Jeremy Bilhorn Waukesha West- David LaBorde
East Troy- Rick Penniston Oakfield- Carmen Klassy Whitewater- Doug Parker
Edgerton- Mark Coombs Oconomowoc- Joseph Moylan