Brief

Superintendent calls on public to press Legislature for school funding

By: - July 28, 2021 9:26 am
Jill Underly

Jill Underly (via Facebook)

On Tuesday, after the Wisconsin Legislature rejected Gov. Tony Evers’ call to hold a special session to increase funding for schools, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jill Underly released an unusually strong statement criticizing legislative leaders for ignoring the urgent needs of students.

Citing the surge of the delta variant of COVID-19 just as Wisconsin schools prepare to re-open in the fall, Underly said legislators are failing students by refusing to allocate more money for education, despite Wisconsin’s record budget surplus. Instead, she notes, Republican legislative leaders have insisted that school districts use one-time federal pandemic relief grants to cover regular ongoing operating expenses. 

“Make no mistake,” Underly said in her statement, “this money comes with significant strings attached and does not meet the needs of our students, educators, or their communities.”

“Schools will make tough choices in the years ahead because of this legislature’s short-sightedness,” Underly stated. “But they don’t have to.”

She urged all Wisconsin school district administrators, school board presidents and parents to contact their legislators and provide them with a list of every item that will be cut from school budgets because of the lack of sufficient state funding.

“Describe for them the individuals who will lose their jobs, the facility repairs that will go undone, the bus routes that will go unmanned, the classrooms that will go without substitute teachers, and the enrichment programs your community is proud of that will go away,” Underly suggested. “All of these decisions translate into fewer opportunities for our kids. They need to hear how that impacts your life.”

If legislators don’t respond, she added, “call them again, or email them for an explanation.”

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Ruth Conniff
Ruth Conniff

Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She formerly served as Editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine where she worked for many years from both Madison and Washington, DC. Shortly after Donald Trump took office she moved with her family to Oaxaca, Mexico, and covered U.S./Mexico relations, the migrant caravan, and Mexico’s efforts to grapple with Trump. Conniff is a frequent guest on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, CNN, Fox News and many other radio and television outlets. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. Her book "Milked: How an American Crisis Brought Together Midwestern Dairy Farmers and Mexican Workers" won the 2022 Studs and Ida Terkel Award from The New Press.

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