December 21, 2016
Contact: Rep. Dave Considine, (608) 266-7746
COLUMN: Give Fair Funding a fair chance
by Rep. Dave Considine
Dave Considine represents the 81st District in the State Assembly. The 81st District includes Baraboo, Sauk City, Prairie du Sac, Portage, and many other communities. His office can be reached at (608) 266-7746 or via email at Rep.Considine@legis.wisconsin.gov
Recently, Tim McCumber contributed his thoughts on the Fair Funding plan proposed by our state Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Evers. I appreciate Tim’s vocal conservative perspective, and I agree that in general, local control is the better option. We as a state certainly need to create more space for our local schools, especially in smaller rural districts, to make their own decisions. But that autonomy must be balanced with support at the state level. As a former educator and a strong advocate for our public schools, that is how I see the Fair Funding plan.
It is true that our state Legislature has a steep Republican majority. It is also true that in the past, a plan like Superintendent Evers’ Fair Funding idea has had a difficult time in the legislature. But that’s partly because in the past, when Wisconsin’s Republican leadership and Governor Walker have talked about “supporting K-12 education,” it turns out that they really mean “private voucher education”. This time around, we are hearing the same rhetoric. I hope this time, supporting K-12 education will mean supporting our public schools, the way the Fair Funding plan proposes.
In studies from late 2015 and early 2016, researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Quarterly Journal of Economics found that states that spend more on education see more academic improvement than states that don’t. This confirms what local administrators, teachers, and families have been saying for years: invest in our kids and our public schools, and it will pay off. If we needed proof in order to believe them; well, the evidence is here. It’s time to shift from demanding that our children prove the effects of our policies through endless testing to supporting our schools’ efforts to make their own choices. Practicing local control starts with state support for local entities. We need to invest in our local schools appropriately, and show our public educators that the state is here to support the decisions they make in the best interests of their students – not to take over.
The Fair Funding plan is not perfect, but it is much better than taking money away from public schools that need help and giving it to schools that aren’t being held to the same standards. Fair Funding asks a lot of our state financially, but it is no more than our public schools need and deserve. They are doing the best they can with the limited resources the state gives them. We need to give the Fair Funding plan a fair shot and find more ways to support our local schools.