Tax breaks on the backs of students by Kay Hoff and Tracy Thiel
Wisconsin homeowners paid $11 less in property taxes-three cents a day-on a median home, the April 21 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, calling it “good news for property taxpayers.” Maybe that’s good news, but not at the price of Governor Walker’s damage to schools. The DPI’s budget plan-Fair Funding for our Future-would have kept property taxes down without depleting school budgets and driving good teachers away.
Instead of driving them away, we must retain our best teachers and recruit more. How? By providing reasonable class sizes for our children. By offering teachers moderate salaries with decent insurance and retirement benefits and cost-of-living increases based on their level of experience and education. All these cultivate a climate of respect–as Wisconsin has historically done for educators.
This year, Walker’s unfair redistribution of funds has caused bigger-than-usual class sizes for our average public school students who will likely be in an even bigger class next year and yet average teacher compensation is down. And now, because of Walker’s increased powers, the Journal Sentinel’s April 21 lead article reports that teachers with a master’s or doctoral degree might take home a cost-of-living increment of 30 percent less, in spite of spending hundreds of their own dollars and hours and hours of their own time taking classes to better equip themselves to help our children learn.
Considering the destruction Walker has wrought, I don’t know how Wisconsin could be doing a worse job of recruiting and retaining good teachers to educate our precious children. On the other hand, how precious are our children to us if we are willing to rejoice at a property tax savings of $11, largely at their expense?
Wisconsin homeowners paid $11 less in property taxes this year on a median home-good news for Wisconsin’s children?
Kay Hoff, Minocqua and Tracy Thiel, Milwaukee