Letter to the editor: Public education underfunded

By LEE D. VAN LANDUYT | Hillsboro

Wisconsin’s Joint Finance Committee considers all bills introduced in either house of the legislature for the appropriation of money for all state funded programs. “These bills shall be referred to the joint committee on finance before being passed into law,” according to the State Constitution. 

There are 16 members on this standing committee. Of this number, four are Democratic members and 12 are Republican members. This extremely lopsided total, in a heavily gerrymandered state, is an example of how power corrupts our political system.

Republican Sen. Marklein is co-chair of the State Finance Committee, and Republican Rep. Kurtz are on the Joint Finance Committee. Together, they, along with other conservatives, are responsible for past underfunding of public schools while dramatic increasing funds for private voucher schools. Those schools have little oversight or accountability to the state. In addition, the conservative legislature has continuously underfunded the UW system in general, UW-River Falls in particular, through the recent UW Regent’s decision, and continues to undermine and undervalue public education throughout the state. 

Wisconsin was once the envy of the nation when it came to public education under Democratic governance. Foreign students and students from around the country flocked to our schools to receive the best education available. I graduated from high school in 1962, during the heyday of public education. I remember well the impact the University of Wisconsin had on students of my generation. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case under Republican anti-public-school rule. It will be up the each of us to restore our faith in our public-school systems across the board during the upcoming 2024 elections. We still are a democracy, and every vote still counts. Prepare for a better future and do your civic duty. Vote.

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