Proposed UW budget cuts could affect K-12 education majors

Corissa Mosher

With multimillion-dollar budget cuts finalizing for K-12 education in the 2015-16 fiscal year, UW Oshkosh students and experts said persuing a career in K-12 education may not be the right choice. “I don’t believe they should go into the field of education unless they’re aware of the issues they face and the ramifications of their choice,” UWO education professor Suzanne Fondrie said. Gov. Scott Walker proposed a budget in the beginning of the year that will cut per-pupil-aid payments to K-12 public schools. In 2014-15, the Oshkosh Area School District received $1,470,750 in per-pupil-aid payments and if the budget is approved, the Oshkosh district will lose this money. In total, Wisconsin K-12 schools could lose up to $127 million in per-pupil-aid in 2015-16, according to the governor’s proposed biennial budget. As stated in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, most of the Wisconsin districts expected the budget to keep K-12 education spending flat, allowing them to plug deficits by raising property taxes. Schools now have to find a new way to save money. UWO education student Abby Anaya said these budget cuts are seen directly in the schools, from layoffs to lack of supplies. Anaya said during her placements in Oshkosh area schools, she sees teachers who have been employed for years now worry that their position may not be available again next year. Anaya said it is not easy to go into a field the government does not respect. “We’re going into a field that is completely disrespected,” Anaya said. “You’re going into a system that people are saying ‘you can’t do that,’ ‘that won’t work,’ ‘why are you doing that, that’s making my child stupider,’ ‘that doesn’t help them.’ It’s daily. It’s hourly.” Fondrie said because of this system, students should avoid going into the education field in general. “If more students avoided education as a career, society might be forced to rethink its approach to devaluing and disrespecting the hard and important work that educators do,” Fondrie said. UWO education professor Thomas Fischer said even with these budget cuts, being an educator is worth it. “It’s still a great job for people who want to make a difference in the lives of young people,” Fischer said. UWO education student Taylor White said there are some positives that can come from all of the budget cuts. “Going in it right now, with the system like this, I am obviously going for the right reasons,” White said. “I am obviously not going in it for the money. For me, when I am in my clinicals all day, I just leave happy.” Fondrie said the only way to prevent future cuts like this, to such an important part of the community, is not to encourage the government in any way. This includes avoiding the education field. “I appreciate the opportunity to work with these bright, dedicated future educators, but I worry that their enthusiasm and hard work will only serve to prop up a system that continues to undermine them,” Fondrie said.