Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is in a position for a huge victory in the name of education. The state legislature also recently passed a budget that repeals state tenure guarantees and slashes the budget for the state of Wisconsin. The University also acknowledged the cuts with a spending plan matching said cuts. Walker needs only to sign, seal and deliver – then celebrate.
The Daily Caller reports the two-year, $73 billion budget approved Thursday makes a host of changes Walker has sought in the realm of education. Wisconsin’s school voucher program is expanded, and $250 million in funding is taken from the University of Wisconsin. That’s down from the $300 million cut Walker originally sought, but still a substantial haircut.
Bowing to the fait accompli, later on Thursday the University of Wisconsin approved its own budget, implementing the big cuts expected of it. About 400 positions will be laid off or will go unfilled, and the university’s budgets no money for pay hikes. The school’s situation is made tougher because the legislature has also frozen in-state tuition.
While academics have accused Walker of sabotaging the school’s competitiveness, Walker has refused to yield, arguing that professors should be teaching more classes.
Walker’s push to slash spending at U-Wisconsin has received the most press, but his push to alter tenure may have the biggest long-term implications. Until now, tenure for professors at the University of Wisconsin has been protected by statute (Wisconsin is the only state with such a law). Now, that protection has been eliminated, leaving it up to the school’s board of regents to decide whether professors have tenure.
Not only that, but tenure itself has been weakened so that it doesn’t offer the protections it once did. Previously, only “financial exigency” (an urgent budget shortfall) could justify the firing of a tenured professor. Now, tenured professors may also be laid off whenever it is “deemed necessary due to a budget or program decision regarding program discontinuance, curtailment, modification, or redirection.”
There should be no guarantees for anyone, at anytime, for job security based on time at the job alone. Especially for a teacher. These should be SOLELY on a merit and performance basis. We can only hope other states will follow the blueprint that Governor Walker has laid out, and we can finally get this nation back on track.
Written by Katie McGuire. Follow Katie on Twitter @GOPKatie, or email the author at [email protected]