Evers says his ‘transformational budget’ will fund 4-year-old kindergarten for all students and achieve two-thirds state funding of schools

State Superintendent Tony Evers said Wednesday that he will propose a “transformational budget” that provides full funding of 4-year-old kindergarten and achieves the state’s longtime commitment of funding two-thirds the cost of local public schools “without any gimmicks while holding the line on taxes.” … “No more false choices. There’s a better way, and that is the high road,” Evers said in opening remarks at the Wisconsin Public Education Network Summer Summit at Appleton North High School.

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Evers to seek 163% increase in special education funding

State Superintendent Tony Evers said Monday he will seek a 163% increase in special education funding in his next biennial budget request. WEAC President Ron Martin applauded Evers’ announcement, saying that years of underfunding of special education has worsened under Scott Walker. “It’s incredibly important at a time when so many children have unique needs that we provide the resources needed so all kids can be successful no matter their learning style or ability,” he said.

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Special needs voucher program costs taxpayers $5.6 million, reduces aid to public schools, report says

The Wisconsin program that allows children with special needs to attend private schools at taxpayer expense cost the state $5.6 million in “scholarships” in its first two years, and diverted $4.1 million in needed state aid away from 25 local public school districts, according to a new audit from the Legislative Audit Bureau. Milwaukee Public Schools alone lost more than $2.6 million in state aid because of the program. In addition, an analysis of the report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the report “confirmed what many critics had feared: that it would serve primarily children already in private schools and leave children with the greatest needs to the public schools.”

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DPI announces mental health grants, says much more is needed

The Department of Public Instruction on Monday announced a series of new grants totaling $3.2 million for mental health services in schools, but State Superintendent Tony Evers and advocacy groups, including WEAC, said much more is needed. “In a given year, one in five students faces a mental health issue, with more than 80 percent of incidents going untreated,” Evers said. “Those students who do get help, more often than not, receive it through their school.”

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‘Local activism around public education may just transform Wisconsin’s political culture’

The Progressive Magazine this summer took a close look at the history of Governor Walker’s attacks on public schools, educators and students. In an article that recounts the devastating impact of the Act 10 law that undermined collective bargaining, as well as deep cuts to state funding of public schools, author Jennifer C. Berkshire finds reason for optimism in a state known for its fighting spirit and strong support for public schools. “But there is another, more hopeful story to be told about Wisconsin, seven years after Walker officially kicked off his war on labor,” Berkshire writes. “It involves parents and teachers and local grassroots activists coming together to fight for the public schools in their communities.”

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