Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Gov. Evers announces $90 million investment in K-12 public education across state of Wisconsin

Funds will address staffing issues, increase classroom support, expand mental health services
Michaela Kihntopf
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Gov. Tony Evers announced a $90 million investment in public schools Aug. 30, according to a press release from the Office of the Governor.

According to the press release, these funds are coming from Wisconsin’s allocation of federal American Rescue Plan Act money. The funds are intended to address staffing issues, provide increased classroom support and expand mental health services in public schools. The money will be distributed among school districts on a per-student basis and allocated over multiple school years.

Out of the $90 million, $15 million will be going directly to increasing mental health services via Evers’ “Get Kids Ahead” program, while $75 million will be used to expand teacher staff and decrease the number of students in classes, according to the press release.


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This allocation of funds comes after a tumultuous time for teachers in Wisconsin, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced many teachers to take safety precautions into their own hands amid longer hours and a culture war, according to Wisconsin Public Radio. Additionally, according to a report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum, the number of students graduating with education degrees dropped drastically in 2021.

These difficulties have led many students, including University of Wisconsin senior Jack Kotz, to rethink their future career plans.

Kotz planned on becoming a history or Spanish teacher after graduating, but he said he is now reassessing this plan due to how teachers are treated in Wisconsin. Kotz also noticed differences in how his mother, a Wisconsin teacher, was treated after Act 10 was passed in Wisconsin.

Act 10 was passed by former Gov. Scott Walker just over a decade ago and resulted in a limited ability for public employees, not including firefighters and police officers, to collectively bargain. Additionally, it cut benefits like pensions and healthcare for all public employees, including firefighters and police officers, according to Spectrum News 1.

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According to Wisconsin Public Radio, Act 10 caused lasting issues for teachers that can still be seen today, especially in a post-COVID-19 society and resulted in fewer teachers and more staffing issues.

Kotz said he believes Evers’ new investments will be helpful but they may not fix the root of these issues.

“It seems like the money will treat some of the symptoms rather than go for like the root of the cause,” Kotz said. “Not to say that it’s not helpful, but I think like one of the main reasons [for staffing issues] is brain drain – all the teachers were leaving after Act 10, and I think the root of that is definitely a lack of workers’ rights and robust public teacher unions.”

According to the press release, the funding aims to bring teachers back to schools after data showed public sector workers left their industries in 2021 at the highest rate in two decades.

Former UW School of Education Dean Emerita Julie Underwood spoke about what the $90 million will likely be able to accomplish in public schools.

Underwood said the $90 million given to schools over an extended period of time will encourage schools to actually hire much-needed teaching staff, in contrast to the one-time funds schools have been given in the past. One-time funds allow schools to contract with substitute teachers or other temporary staff, but not the licensed teaching professionals and psychologists schools need, according to Underwood.

“Stretching [the funding] out over a few years will encourage school districts to spend the money on licensed staff like teachers and school psychologists and counselors,” Underwood said. “Those are the kinds of staff that are really urgently needed in school districts not just in the state of Wisconsin, but all over the United States.”

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Underwood also talked about the importance of the money set aside for mental health services in public schools, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Underwood, one in five student-aged children has a mental health issue, and many of these students rely on their schools to get help. But schools are often not equipped to handle these issues, so these funds will help, she said.

“Providing additional access so that [the students] can get better treatment and get counseling more frequently or faster is sorely needed, especially these days just at the end of the COVID pandemic,” Underwood said.

Underwood also said that while this $90 million investment is a good step, she thinks an even greater investment is Evers’ new proposal to give schools across the state $2 billion in the 2023-2025 budget.

According to a press release from the Office of the Governor, this proposed $2 billion would be used to help public schools improve literacy outcomes, increase special education aid and expand access to mental health and nutrition services, among other things.

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