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Common sense would tell you that when crucial educational programs are cut, people are going to make a lot of noise. But under the noise, Gov. Scott Walker was able to swiftly yet quietly eliminate a program that this state’s students are in dire need of — the Wisconsin Covenant Scholars program.

The covenant program was introduced by Gov. Jim Doyle in January 2006 as a way to get Wisconsin children motivated to do well academically and reward them with much-needed financial aid once they reached college. If the student met the program’s requirements, which included earning a high school diploma while attaining at least a B average and contributing at least 30 hours to community service, the student was to be ensured a spot in either a University of Wisconsin system school or a technical college.

Passed by the Legislature in 2007, a $25 million annual permanent appropriation was given to support students in need. In 2011, as soon as the first grants began for the first eighth-graders who signed, the program, including $38 million in state tuition financial assistance, was cut from the biennial budget under order from Walker.

Walker in 2010, then campaigning for governor, criticized Doyle for making a promise that he wouldn’t be able to keep. In reality, Doyle and his program kept its promise while Walker is the one who decided to bail on Wisconsin’s students.

A small glimmer of hope for the future of the program is that all students who signed prior to Sept. 30, 2011, will be ensured their grants — up to $1,500 annually — through four years after high school, only because Walker has a financial obligation to do so. Doyle’s promise will be kept to some, and too few, because of Walker.

Aside from the financial successes of the program, the spark of inspiration and discussion it creates amongst young people and their families goes completely unnoticed. The motivation and desire to do well in school is something that is needed for every student, as education is key to a good middle-class future. The idea that your own government is behind you and will personally support you is a quality that is immeasurable.

For me personally, knowing the government would be more than willing to help me become a productive member of society was a boost of confidence. It gave myself and others a more clear path to the future — one that let me know that whatever I chose to pursue would be something that’s worthwhile and that somebody from the outside cares enough to lend me and others a much needed hand.

Toshia Spindler, a student attending the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, told Urban Milwaukee in a story earlier this year that she was “extremely disappointed” that the program was being cut. Just as valuable as the financial aid, she describes helping the community to meet the service requirement as a part of “learning what’s truly important in life.”

It seems astonishing that the sentiment of those with the majority control of this Legislature think that your child should fend for themselves simply because their education, this state’s catalyst for the future, isn’t worth the smallest of concerns for a budget. In fact, they want to take away as much of it as they possibly can — even a crucial program that’s cost in comparison to the budget represents a needle in a haystack.

Education is the basic foundation and engine to economic prosperity. It all starts with a spark of inspiration and hope from something such as the covenant program that also gives crucial financial support. It represents two absolute needs for a student’s education, one measurable and one not — money and a drive to succeed. And all the conservative wing of this state has done is kill it.

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Jacob Schimmel is an incoming freshman at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse majoring in public administration, political science and communication, and an intern at One Wisconsin Now.

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(38) comments

Redwall

Mr. Schimmel has four years to learn about personal responsibility. I give him little hope he will learn it in academia, and he certainly wont learn it at One Wisconsin Now.

Remember, progressive policies buy votes but destroy prosperity. The evidence is all around you.

tower

I would like you to name me one country that promotes a YOYO policy, ie: You are ON Your Own. Mean while I can name you about a dozen countries that have what you would call socialist progressive policies that are doing VERY well. Care to play?

Mr Wizard

How about one of the dozen socialist countries who have over 300 million people and an open borders policy like the good 'ole USA.

Redwall

As you are soon to matriculate at UWL, you will realize it is a great campus but came at the accumulated cost of about $250 million spent over the last dozen years and including the $60 million of additional spending approved last week.

There are approximately 7,000 full time students; meaning UWL has spent almost $40,000 per student on improvements. That sum would pay four years of tuition and perhaps a masters degree for every student currently enrolled.

If you are concerned about your tuition; thank the bloated administration and all their pet projects and understand all those amenities came at a cost...to you.

The students of UWL voted to spend the money on many of the improvements after the administration bribed them with the promise that only new students (YOU!) would pay the bill and those that voted to spend the money would pay none. Apparently that is what UWL teaches in its "business ethics" classes.

wakeup

Good editorial. Not only has Walker cut this important funding for students, but he`s also continued the decreasing funding of education in the state, from K through 16. Our grandparents, many of whom barely had an 8th grade education, understood the importance of investing in free "higher" education (at the time, high school) for the benefit of their future generations. Now, rather than cutting education funding, we should be finding a way to provide free college educations for all. Read Thomas Friedman`s new book, "That Used To Be Us," if you think society has no interest in supporting and increasing students` higher educations.

Redwall

But again, Wisconsin ACT scores are 2nd best in the country behind only Minnesota.

The sky isnt falling, Chicken Little. Why are you so afraid?

By the way, Thomas Freidman has been proven to be a tired, old fraud. Read his The Earth is Flat, written 10 years ago and compare his predictions to today's reality. The policies he advocated have resulted only in jobs lost overseas...the opposite of what he predicted.

Clydefromona

My advice Jacob: GOYA! On your 15 birthday, if you would have gotten a job working two 3 hour shifts per week, at $5.50 / hour, 50 weeks a year until your 18th birthday you would have in your savings account = $4950! Jacob GOYA!(Get Off Your "Seat")

PS: Dr. Thomas L. Freidman's degrees are in Mediterranean Studies. Is the Mediterranean the basin of rigorous experimentation in capitalistic theory? Not that I am aware, but then I don't have a doctorate in Mediterranean Studies.

GForceSaints

Many of the most educated countries in this world (like Norway, for instance) offer college and trade/technical schools for free, because they know they value of an educated and skilled workforce. We have two problems here in the US--the increasing costs of post-secondary education, which is putting it out of reach of even middle class families, and an increasingly vitriolic anti-intellectual movement among the extremist right politicians and conservative churches which seems to value remaining ignorant of the world and how it works. They're afraid their children will learn too much to remain "in the faith" (read: they'll become thinkers rather than blind, mutely obedient followers).

CJ

Norway huh..........US taxed folks, that actually pay taxes, would have a revolt. I'm all for education but feel people need to plan ahead instead of always waiting or looking for help.

And yes, Norway is one of the most heavily taxed countries in the world with a total tax burden of roughly 45% of GDP– almost 4x Hong Kong and nearly twice the US. VAT here is a whopping 25%. Personal income tax rates border 55%.

Why Norway is a BS argument for higher taxes

www.sovereignman.com/.../why-norway-is-a-bs-argument-for-higher-taxes

Clydefromona

Before the full implementation of "The Great Society", 1970 Wisconsin's technical schools were tuition free, you paid for workbooks and course materials, generally no more than $15 a semester. Social havens in Europe demand abortion of special needs children and in schools the stratification and segregation of students based on ability, your child only associates with those of similar ability so most every class member gets A's because grading is curve.

The Social Havens have restrictive immigration policies, must be able to fluently speak the language, be in excellent health and pass a rigorous citizenship test and prove you have a marketable skill. In otherwords a closed society. Not the open borders culture George Soros empire promotes for America. You collapse the American system you can then institute the Utopia of National Socialism. Have a happy day!

Deadwood subscriber

Mr Schimmel, you are just collateral damage. No doubt Gov Walker slashed this program to keep down the blacks and other minorities.

#trolling,orami?

LAX

Great letter, Jacob! Right on the mark! Please know that most Wisconsinites, unlike the many yahoos who have posted here today, support you and are willing to see tax dollars used to support education programs...Study hard and good luck! We look forward to hearing from you more in the future!

Mr Wizard

Carrying a B average and completing 30 hours of community service should guarantee you admittance and funding in college or tech school? I graduated in the top 10% of my class and had to pay my own way. Buck up Jacob, it's only gonna get tougher from here.

Deadwood subscriber

Graduating in the top 10% does not equate to maintaining a B average and having 30 hours of service. If 99% of your fellow graduates maintained a D average, then you can be in the top 10% with a C average.

And yes, it's gonna get tougher if Walker keeps making decisions that prevent driven youth such as Mr Schimmel from realizing their potential.

The best predictor of future wealth is being born wealthy. And @MrWizard couldn't care less about upward mobility.

Mr Wizard

Sounds like it was easy to excel where you went to school Deadwood.

Redwall

Deadwood's reasoning, if you can call it that, says it all. Mr. Schimmel is in good company.

CJ

Jacob, your folks had 18 years to educate and help you learn how to set aside money for college it is not up to the taxpayer or is it?

patssy70

CJ _-How many college students or graduates do you know got NO taxpayer assistance to attend college? You speak as though you are an uneducated moron.

CJ

Patssy part of the problem with the high tuition cost is taxpayer assistance mainly in the area of Fed backed loans, do some research. I actually help people plan for the future by saving & planning instead of arriving at college time or retirement and then saying now what, we have no money....................society wants to live for today and sadly it will cost us all down the road............uneducated, good one there :)

Deadwood subscriber

And the other part of the problem is attitudes such as yours.

If you don't want an educated populace, keep blaming the poor for being poor.

patssy70

Some of us were single parents with no money and needed an education to feed, clothe and shelter our children so they could become responsible members of society. It took me 7.5 years to earn my bachelors but then I secured a good paying job and worked for the next 25 years until retiring. My kids are educated and have a strong work ethic. So yes, sometimes we do need taxpayer assistance in the form of loans and grants. But we, in turn repay it with our excessive tax dollars through our jobs.

oldhomey

I found a receipt recently for my second semester at La Crosse State College in the spring of 1963. Tuition was $90. A few other fees bumped it up to $112.50. I lived at home with my parents, so that was all I paid. I had a part-time job that paid $18 a week, the $8 a week I saved, easily covering college expenses. A full-time summer job provided savings to transfer to a more expensive school. It doesn't work that way anymore, Dearie. A part-time job won't send you through college anymore. On top of that, part-time work and summer jobs are tough to find. All wages have been stalled for decades now, except for the incredibly wealthy 1 per cent. They spend billions on Walker and his ilk, hoping to stave off the day when we wake up and do some readjusting on our economy, seeing to it that we have a more fair, equitable distribution of wealth again, assuring we have a healthy middle class and a healthy economy designed for the long haul, not for quick profits for the few.

patssy70

Walker wants to dumb down this state so all the dumbies will reelect him. He wants everyone coming up to be as uneducated as he is. I'll bet he'll find a way to send his own kids to college without using her personal funds. Maybe the Koch brothers have already set up a trust fund for them.

Cassandra

CJ, your rotten attitude fails to take into consideration that perhaps his family was poor, maybe they lost everything due to medical emergencies or some other economic catastrophe (of which there are plenty).
And while we're at it, you've had your entire life to build roads. Why should taxpayers cover it? and why are you driving on roads that I paid for?
This ridiculous example is just counterpoint to your nonsense that ignores society's need to invest in the future.

CJ

Yes, things do happen to families and I know firsthand about medical bills, job losses, a parent passing on etc etc.. Trust me I have paid plenty in gas tax and license plate renewals that past 30 years or so, I think I've contributed a small bit to the roads my family uses :)

tower

CJ: We have talked numerous times about the widening of the wealthy from the rest of us.
Just got done reading "Capital in the 21st Century". Along with the Freidman book I suggest you read it. One of his points is that those countries that make it easier to attend college, ie: Scandinavia, have a more equal society. They have little or no poor and have been judged as being very happy societies. Education is the key to narrowing the wealth gap. Your opinion of you are on your own is self defeating. With your attitude the society is going to splinter even more and someday make a revolution even more likely.

CJ

Tower you would be fun to talk to and I mean that in a sincere way. My main point is that people today do not plan and colleges to well know that and with the Feds encouraging & backing loans it's a bad mix. The stats out there today that 36% of working folks have Zero $$$ saved for retirement is a very sad fact. I've made my share of $$$ mistakes but still have to rely on the person in the mirror to provide and teach my family to plan ahead and not make the same mistakes I have made and hopefully even do better should they start a family...........

Machiavelli

CJ: " The stats out there today that 36% of working folks have Zero $$$ saved for retirement is a very sad fact."

Perhaps if these working folks were paying out less in corporate welfare to the Don Webers of this country, they'd have more $$$ saved?

"Add It Up: The Average American Family Pays $6,000 a Year in Subsidies to Big Business"

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2013/09/23/add-it-average-american-family-pays-6000-year-subsidies-big-business

joebadaxxe1

Good letter, Jacob. The big money boys want us to be on the dumb side. Some of these letters make it painfully clear that some have already cooperated. .

Straight Talk

Jacob, something you will learn if you ever become a taxPAYER is that Doyle had no right to make a "covenant" with anyone regarding my earnings. Thank you governor Walker for ending this entitlement scam.

Deadwood subscriber

...but Walker has a right to make a covenant with your earnings? See: tax cuts for corporations.

Jobaba

Even Georgia has a program to help pay for college. Many states apportion lottery money towards this.

Wisconsin is more anti-education than conservative southern states?

The Local Observer

Why didn't Doyle promise a new car for every Wisconsin High School graduate too?

Memo to people: THE GOVERNMENT TROFT IS EMPTY!

Any questions?

Jobaba

Sorta ruined yer point wif yer spellin' there.

jharrimjr

Local, pull your pants up. Your uneducated ignorance is showing.

jharrimjr

I think most younger people in general do not have high opinions of Walker. He's cheating them out of higher education by cutting money to the UW-System which results in them paying a far higher share for their schooling than many of the rest of us did. But, we need to give Tax breaks to the 1% and our rich buddies, right Dictator Walker?

patssy70

The only people to get a college education in the future will be the kids of the very rich. We will no longer have a middle class, we will have an uneducated lower class who will have to do the bidding of the educated wealthy. I am glad I'm as old as I am because I won't be here to see it.

Machiavelli

Schimmel; 'The covenant program was introduced by Gov. Jim Doyle in January 2006 as a way to get Wisconsin children motivated to do well academically..."

What could a college dropout like Walker possibly know about doing well academically? Anti-intellectualism amongst the right wing runs deep. Don't waste your breath trying to convert them, just vote them all out this November!

Mr Bean - The Exam Cheat

www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ot_vJLJ86M

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