This Legislature and Gov. Tony Evers are developing a budget for our state for the next two years.

John Havlicek

John Havlicek

This is extremely important work, and is likely to be contentious this year.

The Republicans in the Legislature have a majority, and have said they might ignore Gov. Evers’ proposed budget and start from scratch on their own.

Conversely, Evers campaigned and won on several issues that are typically included in the state’s budget but that are at odds with recent actions by Republican legislators.

The portion of the state budget devoted to public education affects every person in our state. Evers, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, and their staff have been touring the state, soliciting input to create what they call the “People’s Budget.”

I attended the session in La Crosse, and education was frequently discussed. That was true at sessions across the state.

As a Spanish teacher at Central High School for 21 years, I know that the state has underfunded public schools for more than a generation.

In particular, the state has reneged on its promise to cover 66% of the cost of special education services in our public schools.

This cost continues to grow, as more and more students are identified as needing more support. While private schools can and do exclude many students who need special support, public schools must not and do not shirk our duty to provide the best education we can for all students.

However, the state commitment to special education funding has dropped almost every year, to the point where it stands at about 25% today, far short of the promised 66%.

Evers has called on the Legislature to pass a budget that moves toward fulfilling the state’s obligation to these students and their families. He also campaigned on a promise to significantly increase general school funding, to make up for the stripping of support that our students and families have suffered during the last eight years.

As a veteran public school teacher, I can tell you that the academically strongest students in our schools are doing amazing things — things their parents didn’t get until college.

But the programs that we are able to provide them are under attack due to chronic underfunding. Those middle ground kids, who are doing fine but need some help now and again, are getting a broader, more diverse experience than ever, and they are discovering their talents and passions.

Unfortunately, their programs are being pitted against other programs in a battle for ever-shrinking funding.

Finally, the kids that need more consistent support are getting all the help we can provide, but it simply hasn’t been enough. They have more needs, at a younger age, and they need more support. This means increasing resources, staffing and programming so that they, too, can become healthy, happy, productive participants in our society.

We can keep the world-class education system we have in Wisconsin, but we need to fund it properly.

The state needs to quit picking winners and losers based on Zip code. It needs to quit abandoning our communities, in particular our black and brown communities, and properly fund a world-class education for all students, not just those born into affluence. We need the Legislature to adopt the People’s Budget and restore the funding that our previous governor took away.

Evers has talked about two huge drains on our resources that are not benefitting all Wisconsinites: the unaccountable voucher programs; and the manufacturing and agricultural tax credits.

The state voucher programs will cost our public schools $302 million this school year. In a twist of cruel irony, in November 2018 voters authorized more than $2 billion in local school referenda in our state, and in April 2019, more than 45 referenda passed totaling just under $800 million.

The people of Wisconsin clearly support public schools and are willing to raise their own taxes to do so. It is time that the Legislature listens.

Evers also wants to zero out the manufacturing and agricultural tax credit that did little to save family farms or manufacturing jobs, but that did quite a bit to enrich the already wealthy families that are able to make large campaign donations.

That giveaway will cost the state $334 million in 2019 alone. Those making more than $1 million make up only 0.2% of Wisconsin’s population, but they claimed 76% of the credit.

This strips funds from infrastructure and public education to reward the hyper-wealthy and corporations that are not paying their fair share.

Contact your legislators, hold them accountable to the people of Wisconsin and demand that they support increasing public education funding and pass the People’s Budget.

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John Havlicek is president of the La Crosse Education Association.


(16) comments


John H, please explain to me the difference between me paying for increased educational costs ( infrastructure and educational materials ) thru a local referendum passed by people in the district or the state increasing my taxes to accomplish the same things. At least when a district agrees to increase their local taxes it directly benefits them. When the state raises everyone's taxes no one district is in control of these funds for their schools. Same dollars, yes, no ? Why not let each district fund what they deem necessary ? I know you are the local prez for the teachers union, so that my be tinting you view of things.


If you fund schools like this then those who need the most get the least.


Mr. Havlicek,
Parents are choosing nonpublic schools so their children will not be indoctrinated into socialism. Are you teaching why Venezuela failed? Parents also want their children to have a traditional education in civics. Millennials have little knowledge of the branches of government and the rights of others. Finally, public schools are indoctrinating young children in the far-left confusion of identity politics. This includes encouraging them to question if they are a boy or girl. When parents enroll in the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program, the public schools complain that their state support is less than it was 10 years ago. Well, the public schools are educating 40,000 fewer students. You make good points about Special Ed but entirely neglect the motivations of Parents of Choice. They reject revisionist history and lack of discipline in public schools. Dobje for reading this comment.


"Millennials have little knowledge of the branches of government and the rights of others." Well, if we know ONE thing about John87 it is that he is a millennial.

Rick Czeczok

And we know you are way overweight, and so whats the point. Your problem is easy to solve STOP Grazing every 2 minutes. Two bags of chips with your batterfried hamburgers doesn't help your situation.......


And if we know one thing about the Russian troll Comrade Zerocock, it is that he is completely devoid of any rational thought and constantly tries to fat-shame someone he can never honestly claim to have met. What a sad, pathetic little troll of a man he is.

A Veteran

John87--Very well stated,thank you!!!


In what right wing fantasy world do you live? You have a very twisted and false idea of what goes on in public schools.


Here is one of many articles I can send you:
Also, a Teacher Protection bill is in the Minnesota legislature because the 'disparate discipline impact' regulations of the past admin has kept violent students in the schools.


Well you found a single example from a right wing biased source that typically denigrates the left. This is not typical of what goes on in public schools. Don't use outliers as if they are examples of common behavior.


Here's another in Virginia: https://thefederalist.com/2019/03/18/va-public-school-indoctrinates-5-year-olds-transgenderism-without-telling-parents/
Most MSM will not cover these stories.


Here's 17 million more hits: https://www.google.com/search?q=schools+teach+young+children+about+transgender&oq=schools+teach+young+children+about+transgender&aqs=chrome..69i57.14212j1j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8


So you have found 2 socially conservative organizations that are all worked up about some outlandish activity in California. Again, this sort of thing is not what goes on in the vast majority of public school classrooms. I was a teacher for over 30 years in public schools. I never once heard of anything like this. Most teachers are busy teaching the curriculum that is designed to help students do well in their futures. They have little time or tolerance for teaching hot button social or political issues. You are just wrong.


I'm glad you don't have outlandish incidents in LaCrosse. I too taught for 30 years when these lessons in confusion would not be allowed. But if the entire system in Austin Texas is doing this, you know it's not isolated. The best thing Mr. Havlicek can do is invite Parents of Choice to meet with him and the LaCrosse superintendent to find out why they do not want their children in the public schools. Is this being done?


Remember when the Little League kids would line up after the game to shake hands?
The elite resistance doesn't shake hands anymore.
An AP History text now repeats the political slur that the President is mentally unstable.
Mr. Havlicek, I've been to Prague and seen the memorial to those killed by Communists. Dekuji for reading this.


I always get a kick out of people who decry "socialism" and yet enjoy the benefits of our social democracy every day. It also amuses me to watch them try to insist that we are a capitalistic nation when the Constitution makes no mention whatsoever of a commitment to any specific economic system. They current system is clearly failing all but the wealthy. An orderly change to a more equitable system may keep those at the top from losing their heads.

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