Education Must Remain Our Top Priority
John Lehman (D-Racine) made comments at the Patch forum last week about private schools that the American Federation for Children took issue with. They are calling on him to apologize and Lehman is responding to their letter to the editor.
Editor's note: This letter to the editor was written in response to the letter written by Brian Pleva, of the American Federation For Children. To read his letter, click here.
As a father and retired Racine Unified School District teacher, I understand the importance of having and maintaining a solid education policy in government. After all, how can we create a 21st century economy without the groundwork of a strong 21st century education system for our children?
In Racine, and all across Wisconsin, we have seen more and more independent charter schools and voucher schools come forward to meet educational demands. We have seen many success stories from voucher schools and independent charter schools, but we have also seen our share of bad actors.
Despite the best intentions of teachers and lawmakers alike, the truth is that independent charter schools and voucher schools are not directly accountable to our elected school boards. Using taxpayer dollars for an unaccountable educational system is of concern, but we have opportunities to ensure accountability for all of our schools.
Throughout the last session, we have seen an unprecedented attack on our public education system – an attack which will have detrimental effects on Wisconsin’s economy. We cannot cut 1.6 billion dollars from education and expect to create 250,000 jobs or 10,000 new businesses. Just yesterday, on the front page of a local newspaper, we read about the devastating nature of the voucher school program. How can we give our kids the best education in the world when our schools can't even make the grade to provide adequate funding for their classrooms?
As a teacher, when I saw a student struggling in the classroom, that affected me. And I know seeing students struggle affects every teacher. Every person who has spent time in a classroom knows how hard each and every kid works to be successful. We need to invest in our education – now is not the time for 2.3 billion dollars for tax breaks to the wealthy and out-of-state corporations.
We can do better for our children and we can do better for Racine County taxpayers by investing in education and stopping the out of control tax breaks to the rich and out-of-state corporations. Racine County parents and taxpayers cannot continue to fork over money for tax breaks while watching our children’s education erode.
The election next Tuesday is about priorities. The Walker-Wanggaard extremist agenda, has left our schools behind for political gain. In place of solid support for schools, Senator Wanggaard has proposed extreme legislation -- such as Senate Bill 555, whereby officers would be allowed to carry concealed weapons in our schools. SB 555 would also forbid our local school board from doing anything about it. This needs to stop. Instead of doing what is right for our kids, Senator Wanggaard has played all sorts of “dodge and hide” and “divide and conquer" political games.
I ask everyone to step back, take a deep breath and join me in moving Wisconsin forward with more reasonable, thoughtful education.