Friday, March 25, 2011

State Sen. Chris Larson Fighting For Local Schools, Home Rule

I'm reprinting below from Milwaukee Democratic State Sen. Chris Larson's e-mailed newsletter because it offers analysis and links for bills aimed from the outside to strip funds and control from Milwaukee schools, residents and elected officials.

Note also a community meeting Tuesday evening at UWM about education.

The Senate Education Committee held a public hearing this past Wednesday to discuss three bills that could have severe consequences for our neighborhood schools. The three bills introduced aim to dismantle our public school system and instead follow the path towards private, for-profit education.

The first bill discussed was Senate Bill 20, which would give the Milwaukee Common Council the authority to lease or sell school buildings if they determine these buildings are being underutilized or unused.

Senate Bill 34 was the second bill taken up by the committee and would prohibit Milwaukee Public Schools from having residency requirements for teachers. Many of our neighbors made the trip to Madison to testify on the negative implications this bill would have on our community. Senate Bill 34 infringes on the right of our local government to implement policies determined to be in the best interest of our community. This legislation mirrors other bills to eliminate residency requirements for other Milwaukee municipal employees and will have a negative long-term impact on our homeowners and tax base.

Finally, the committee heard comments from Wisconsin residents on Senate Bill 22, the most contentious of the three bills. This legislation would take additional funds away from our neighborhood schools and instead give it to non-traditional schools, which have lower professional standards for their teachers and staff, and limited accountability and transparency. According to DPI, if this legislation were to pass, our community alone would lose nearly $10.8 million from our public schools.

After 10 hours of debate and discussion, it was evident that the overwhelming majority of individuals that participated in the hearing, most of whom were from our community, were adamantly opposed to all three legislative proposals. 

Wisconsin has always been highly regarded for the educational opportunities we provide to all of our children. Each Wisconsin generation before us has made an investment in our state's education. Now it is time for those of us who have benefited from these past efforts to uphold this generational promise--to provide the next generation with the educational opportunities they will need to help them succeed.

To view the legislative proposals previously mentioned, please click on the links listed below:

Town Hall on Education Budget Provisions
Tuesday, March 29 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at UW-Milwaukee
The Milwaukee Democratic Legislative Caucus is holding a town hall meeting this upcoming Tuesday to discuss education-related provisions in the 2011-2013 Biennial Budget. This will be the first of a number of hearings and listening sessions on the budget proposal. Please do not hesitate to contact my office for additional information.

UW-Milwaukee's Wisconsin Room
2200 E. Kenwood Boulevard
Milwaukee, WI 53211

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