Democrats should support public education

Removing the Walker regime is within the grasp of Wisconsin voters. Walker’s policies, if allowed to continue, will make pain and suffering the order of the day for many people, while corporations and the wealthy will flourish.

As an advocate of public education, working for over 80,000 Milwaukee students, my goal is to steer education policy and funding away from privatization, and toward teaching all students with equity in funding and resources.

The past two years have seen education used as a political football to advance schemes that have nothing to do with improving the lives of all Wisconsin’s children. In Milwaukee there was an attempt to take over Milwaukee Public Schools.

With the new legislature coming to office in 2011, private school vouchers have been expanded, along with a move toward universal vouchers. The charter movement is working to flood the Milwaukee education market with so-called “miracle” schools.

Democrats should support public education at all levels because:

  1. An educated population is the cornerstone of democracy. This nation’s well-being depends on the decisions of its educated, informed citizens.
  2. Education reduces costs to taxpayers. For every dollar spent to keep a child in school, the future costs of welfare, prison, and intervention services are reduced. It can cost less to educate a child now than to support a teenage parent or a repeat offender in the future. Education monies help to secure the future of all citizens.
  3. Public schools are the only schools that must meet the needs of all students. They do not turn children or families away. Public schools serve children with physical, emotional, and mental disabilities, those who are extremely gifted and those who are learning challenged, right along with children without special needs.
  4. Public schools foster interactions and understanding among people of different ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
  5. “Education is the best provision for old age”– Aristotle. The future support of our aging population depends on strong public schools.
  6. More than 95 percent of our future jobs will require at least a high school education. There is no question about the need for an educated work force.
  7. The nation pays a high price for poorly educated workers. When retraining and remediation are needed to prepare a worker to do even simple tasks, the cost is paid by both employers and consumers.
  8. The cost of dropouts affects us all. This nation loses more than $240 billion per year in earnings and taxes that dropouts would have generated over their lifetimes. Well-supported public schools can engage all students in learning and graduate productive and competent citizens.
  9. Children are our nation’s future. Their development affects all of us. Good education is not cheap, but ignorance costs far more.
  10. Public education is a worthy investment for public funds. We can invest now, or we can pay later.

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