Gov. Evers Is Delivering for Our Kids

A champion of education funding, helping our schools' national ranking rise. Tim Michels would take us backward.

By - Nov 6th, 2022 12:15 pm
Gov. Tony Evers

Gov. Tony Evers. Photo by Emily Hamer / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

A child’s right to a public education is written into the Wisconsin constitution. As members of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors, we fight every day to deliver on this promise. Education empowers our students to live their dreams and provides a path to a stable future for many. All of this is possible when public schools are well funded and viewed as a priority from our leadership — and that’s what they are to Governor Tony Evers.

Gov. Evers has always believed that what’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state. Before being elected governor, he was a lifelong educator, teaching high school science, serving as a school principal, district superintendent, and as Wisconsin’s Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Since his first day in office, Gov. Evers has promised to be the Education Governor. He has worked with teachers, parents, and administrators to prioritize our public schools and fought to increase funding for universities and technical colleges — now, our schools are ranked among the top 10 in the country after being ranked 18th just five years ago.

Under previous administrations, state funding for education stagnated. It hasn’t kept pace with inflation for over a decade. Aid for English language learners hasn’t increased since 2007, now covering just 8% of the cost to provide ESL services. Wisconsin has also fallen to the lowest in the nation in special education funding. The state covered 70% of the costs of these services in the 1970s. By 2018, support had fallen to cover just 25% of the costs. That’s why we were so excited that Gov. Evers delivered historic increases in funding for our public schools with the first special education funding increase in a decade. Just like our governor, we believe that our state has not only a legal obligation, but a moral obligation to provide special education services.

Gov. Evers gets it — he recognizes that when we fail to invest in special education, we fail all our students. That’s why he’s fought so hard to increase funding for these important programs. The governor even recently proposed spending $750 million over the next two years on state aid for special education, with a goal of increasing the state’s reimbursement to districts to a 90% reimbursement. This will ensure districts don’t have to dip into their general funds to cover special education costs — every year, school districts transfer $1.25 billion from general education to cover the gap for these services. For perspective, in Milwaukee, that costs every student $2,000 a year that could otherwise be spent on instruction.

Gov. Evers is also taking action on the youth mental health crisis because kids can’t learn unless they get the support they need in and out of the classroom. In his second term, the governor will make investments in his “Get Kids Ahead” initiative permanent, to continue funding school-based mental health programming and staff in districts across the state.

Many of these extremely important aspects of education were actually recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission on Education Funding, which was written by the Republican-controlled Legislature and yet the Republicans still have failed to implement them — their failure to act and invest in these services punishes all students.

Gov. Evers’ opponent, Tim Michels, would continue Republicans’ legacy of failing our students with his radical proposals. He’s suggested breaking up Milwaukee Public Schools and blowing up our local school system and defunding our public schools, even calling continued funding for public education “the definition of insanity.” We don’t need a leader who would try to use our kids as political pawns.

By investing in our public education, we can build a bright and prosperous future for all of Wisconsin. Wisconsin is at its best when we connect the dots — and make sure students in districts of all sizes, rural and urban, have the resources they need. We need a governor who will put our kids first, and Gov. Evers continues to advance budgets and programs that restores educational leadership in Wisconsin.

Megan O’Halloran and Jilly Gokalgandhi, members of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors.

Categories: Education, Op-Ed, Politics

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