By Claudia Felske — I’m generally one to abstain from conspiracy theories. I’m generally one to see the glass half full, I’m generally one to see both sides of an issue, but I’m having a hard time with this one.
Say you’re a kid, 12 years old. Your Dad sends you to the store.
“Go get us four ribeyes, a couple pounds of shrimp, chocolate milk,” he smiles, “and ice cream, any flavor you want.”
This sounds great to you as he just rambled off all of your favorites.
You wait for him to give you the money.
But there’s no money.
You look at him.
He looks at you.
“Go on, you heard me,” he glares, raising his voice “And don’t come back without ‘em!”
You scurry out the door and make your way toward the store without a clue as to what you’ll do when you get there, much less where you’re going to sleep tonight.
Abusive parenting? Without a doubt.
But perfectly analogous to what the Wisconsin State Legislature has done recently to its Public School Districts. State Statute 118.52 (known as Course Options) allows any student enrolled in a Wisconsin public school district to take up to two courses per semester at any other public or charter school or any public or private college while their school district foots the bill.
Sure, it’s a great learning opportunity for students—steak, shrimp, chocolate milk AND their favorite flavor of ice cream—but absolutely unaffordable for local school districts.
Wisconsin legislators are sending districts to the store with no money.
Since Act 10, since public funding of Charter Schools, since Youth Options, Wisconsin legislation has continued to financially devastate local school districts resulting in reduction of teachers, larger class sizes, and decreased programming.
And now, by law, districts will need to pay up to two classes of college tuition ($2902 at UW Milwaukee, $5730 at Marquette, for example) for any student who requests it. Multiply that by 10 students, 20, 30 or more per semester, and the declaration of bankruptcy by school districts across Wisconsin isn’t far behind.
I’m generally not one for conspiracy theories, but with a mandate that is as ludicrous and wholly unsustainable as Course Options, it’s hard not to believe that there’s an agenda out there, alive and well and powerful, trying to defund and dismantle public education.