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LTE – Janet Scepurek – 3-25-2015

Dear Editor,

Am I to understand from last week’s Tribune Press Reporter that the governor’s proposed budget is to cut $300,000,000 from the UW System and another $68,637,500 from all the public schools in the state?

 I agree that there are some people (including UW professors) who get paid more than they are worth (and many good ones who don’t), but is that a reason to cut $300,000,000? I think the grossly overpaid professors should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, not in the state budget.  Cutting funds to education is punishing the good along with the bad.  My kids certainly learned about “group punishment” in a public school.  Their dad explained to them how group punishment works in the Army:  those who are innocent are supposed to confront those who incurred the punishment and make them see the error of their ways.

I realize that spending money does not necessarily translate into better education, but taking away money is not going to help, especially now that there is nothing left to cut.  Good professors left UW-Barron County for better jobs elsewhere, either Minnesota, another UW, or not in education at all.  We parents hear what really goes on from our students.  Yes, there are some professors who should be retired, and the younger ones — who can relate better to the students — should be paid more, so they stay in education and don’t go run a hotel in Belize.  I am not kidding; one of my daughter’s best instructors at UW-BC is doing that now.

Isn’t good public education something we Americans have always felt important?  I would be the first to say we should have choices.  Over the years, I chose combinations of the public school in our district, a private Lutheran school that had reasonable tuition, home schooling, and open enrollment for my children; whichever I felt was best for each one at the time.  Parents need to do what’s best for their kids; it is our God-given responsibility.  I fully support parents’ rights to choose private schools.  I do comprehend that many public schools need improvement.  But I’m unclear as to how handing taxpayer money over to for-profit schools is the answer.  We do have the right to choose now, which has been hard-won through various court cases over the years.  Maybe the Amish are onto something, removing their children from things they object to — I did that when I didn’t like what my kids were learning, and I found something better.  But I surely did not expect the taxpayers to pay for my choices.  We have freedom to choose; all people have to do is exercise that freedom.

I don’t think privatizing education is any better an idea than privatizing the DMV.  I was in the DMV once when a man asked to buy license plate tabs; the clerk said, “I’m sorry, I wish I could sell them to you, but they took that away from us, now you have to go to a gas station.”  So if education becomes privatized (to the lowest bidder, of course), how will that work?  Will the parents of kids go to the neighborhood public school building and say, “I want to buy an education for my child,” the building monitor will say, “I’m sorry, I wish I could sell one to you, but they took that away from us, now you’ll have to go the “For-Profit” down the road. But don’t worry, the money’s all been taken care of; the “For-Profit” gets the money from the State Government because of some deal they’ve worked out.”  (I’m guessing there would be some money from the state taxpayers handed over to the private corporation, in the form of vouchers, am I right?)

If people feel that privatizing education is not the will of the majority, then they need to let their representatives know this.  We The People should elect representation that truly represents us, not just let whoever wins win.  I totally agree with last week’s letter to the editor; if we don’t vote, we get what we deserve; that’s exactly what’s happened.  We in Forest certainly learned it was a mistake not to pay attention to what those in government were doing.

I found it difficult to believe that Walker actually won, but that is what is going to happen when those currently in power “redistrict” according to how people voted last time.  That is completely backwards! We the People are supposed to choose our representation, not the other way around, where they choose who they want to vote for them?!  As the kids would say, “It’s messed up!”  For what it’s worth, though, my child learned in a public high school about “gerrymandering” so there are still some truths managing to escape, much as those in control would like the kids not to know that!  If knowledge is power, and they don’t want us to have a good education, so we aren’t smart enough to question their every move…it’s messed up.  That’s so not our American idea of public education.  In fact the Founding Fathers sweated bullets wondering how the electorate would be informed enough to vote…dumbing us down and “privatizing” the knowledge and information the kids receive is a bad idea and isn’t going to help our country at all. I get so tired of hearing about how other countries are ahead of us education-wise; countries like China only educate a portion of their population, and a few good ones do well on tests, so the statistics lie.  Whereas, we Americans have the notion that we should educate all our people.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “The function of government is to do for the people what they cannot do for themselves.”  We the People should elect representation that represents us, and inform our representatives to represent us, or else…they are gone next time.

Last election day, a friend and I looked at Politifact trying to determine which candidates told the truth, or variations thereof, more often than those who didn’t.  Plenty of them got ratings like “pants on fire”.  If we cannot find out the truth, how are we supposed to know which one to vote for?  I think that’s the real problem.  You can fool some of the people some of the time… and if enough of them don’t bother to vote…

Janet Scepurek