Open Letter to JFC: Wisconsin Constitution demands fair funding for public education

Wisconsin's Joint Finance Committee takes up the education budget on Wed. March 29.   Here's my letter begging for serious and responsible stewardship of public ed.  Feel free to copy/paste freely, and/or send your own asap! 
Assembly Majority Leader Robin
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald

Members of Wisconsin's Joint Finance Committee
Alberta Darling:
Luther Olsen:
Sheila Harsdorf:
Joe Leibham:
Mary Lazich:
Glenn Grothman:
Jennifer Shilling:
Robert Wirch:
John Nygren:
Pat Strachota:
Dale Kooyenga:
Dean Knusdon:
Dan LeMahieu:
John Klenke:
Cory Mason:
John Richards:

cc: Gov. Walker,
Rep. Gary Hebl, Sen. Mark Miller (my own representatives)

Dear Wisconsin legislators,

I call on you to take seriously your charge to represent ALL citizens of Wisconsin when finalizing the state budget, and especially seriously the consensus among education experts that voucher expansion is wrong for Wisconsin students.  The lack of accountability and discouraging track record of current voucher schools has proven that these schools are not demonstrably more successful than regular public schools.  And the push for "special needs vouchers" in particular seems politically motivated and ill-advised, as is evidenced by the lack of support for this proposal from every single group in the state advocating for special needs students. 

Our public schools were hit hard by the record-breaking cuts to public education funding in the last budget.  It is incumbent upon you now to restore this funding to levels that give every child a chance to succeed and every school a chance to shine.  Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers made some very reasonable and fair suggestions in his recommendations for a Fair Funding for Our Schools plan.  I recommend that you revisit these suggestions and put your stewardship of our schools in the hands of those who best understand what our schools and students need.  The out-of-state money, support, and political motives surrounding the push toward increased voucher funding shows that Wisconsin students are no longer the central focus of this issue; it is YOUR job to bring them back to the center of this stage.

Using public funds to finance private schools and rewarding only the "highest performing" schools is akin to giving a cash reward to those who have already won the lottery.  It is the poorest, and struggling, schools that most need our help.  Let's get these priorities straight and focus on the Constitutional demand that we provide a free and equal education to every child in the state.  Voucher expansion, coupled with decreased funding to regular public schools, does the opposite and violates this most basic of public trusts:
Wisconsin Constitution, Article X, SECTION 3:
The legislature shall provide by law for the establishment of district schools, which shall be as nearly uniform as practicable; and such schools shall be free and without charge for tuition to all children between the ages of 4 and 20 years; and no sectarian instruction shall be allowed therein; but the legislature by law may, for the purpose of religious instruction outside the district schools, authorize the release of students during regular school hours. 
"Release" of these students for religious instruction should not be read as "release" of public funds to sectarian hands.  The proud tradition of excellence in Wisconsin schools requires the totality of support our Constitution demands. 
I submit these concerns to the public record for consideration as this issue is heard by the Joint Finance Committee on May 29, 2013.
Heather DuBois Bourenane
Wisconsin public school parent and citizen representative to the Sun Prairie School Board

Here are those emails again for easy copy/pasting:
and your own representatives if not listed above!


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