MADISON, Wis. — The Monona Grove school district cited in Gov. Scott Walker’s latest deceptive television ad as being a success story, has lost teachers, seen higher class sizes rise throughout the curriculum as result of Walker’s historic $1.6 billion gutting of public education.
“Gov. Walker can’t tell the truth about his record of failing our public schools and he’s trying to lie his way out of it,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “Parents, teachers and students are living the results of his disastrous $1.6 billion theft of public education dollars every single day.”
The third in a series of a nearly $2 million television blitz by Walker references the Dane County Monona Grove School District as an example of how his cuts are not hurting schools. The ad is deceptively constructed to leave viewers believing the district has not lost teachers. The facts tell a different story, including:
According to the comprehensive Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators superintendent survey, Monona Grove School District has seen a net loss of 9.5 teachers and staff, elementary class sizes have increased, and classes like Advanced Placement courses, foreign language, art, music, physical education, and vocational/tech have either been cut or also seen increases in class size [WASDA survey].
Monona School Board President Susan Fox said she has heard from high school students who noticed their classrooms becoming increasingly more crowded. “Research shows that establishing relationships with students is key for success,” she said. “The more students a teacher has to connect with, the harder this is to achieve.” [The Herald–Independent, 11/16/11]
Monona Grove Superintendent Craig Gerlach said his school district would have a hard time continuing to offer a high quality education to students due to the budget cuts. “Simply put, Monona Grove is a great place to be and a great place to learn,” he said. “However, we would be challenged to continue to provide this to our children because we are facing a budget deficit that will likely result in higher class sizes, fewer teachers and fewer programs.” [The Herald–Independent, 11/16/11]
Monona Grove reported in the WASDA survey that budget shortfalls are being filled with remaining Federal Recovery Act funds. The end of those funds in 2012 will likely result in steeper cuts across the district.
The survey’s statewide results show Monona Grove is not unique in how Walker’s cuts have hurt the ability of schools to educate students:
- Nine out of ten students attend a district that had a net loss of staff.
- Nearly six in ten students attend a district with increased class size in K–12, and four in ten students attend a district specifically with increased class sizes in elementary grades.
- Three in four students attend a district that cut staff in at least one essential support and learning program, and one in five attend a district that reduced more than five essential support and learning programs.
- Half of all districts reported that they used one–time federal funds to offset even deeper cuts — funds that will be unavailable next year.
- Two out of three districts reported that they expect to have as deep or even deeper cuts next year. Only one out of 10 expect to have fewer cuts next year.
“Gov. Walker has failed our students and failed our schools,” said Ross. “And all of Gov. Walker’s campaign funds from his corporate special interests won’t change that.”