Superintendent for Public Instruction Tony Evers, a probable Democratic candidate for governor, sent out a fundraising email attempting to play to his supposed strength, school funding:

Our schools need help. Because of Scott Walker’s ongoing budget squabbles and his proposal to give billions of our tax dollars to a foreign corporation, our public school funding is in near constant jeopardy.

As an educator, Tony Evers believes our kids should be the first and last concerns of Wisconsin’s leadership, not political pawns.

Click here to add your name to Tony’s petition to support public school funding across Wisconsin >>

Scott Walker has slashed funding for public education year after year to further his radical political agenda. In 2012, Walker cut $782 million from public schools — and our public education system has never fully recovered.

Today — even after adjusting for inflation — state funding for public education remains lower than it was 10 years ago.

That’s unacceptable. Wisconsin’s kids are being denied a 21st century education because Scott Walker is playing political games.

As an educator, Tony understands that good schools are the key to creating good jobs and the skilled workforce our state needs to bring new employers to Wisconsin.

With your support, we can improve Wisconsin’s public schools and allow our kids to maximize their potential.

Thanks for making your voice heard.

One, let’s point out the obvious that the Foxconn deal is being received enthusiastically by UW System President Ray Cross, University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, and the state’s technical colleges because they know the boon to education that a Foxconn LCD manufacturing facility would be. Evers supposedly oversees public education in Wisconsin (although looking at Milwaukee it’s hard to believe anyone is in charge). Shouldn’t he be able to see the educational benefit of Foxconn coming to Wisconsin, too?

Two, it’s funny how Democrats rail against foreigners when they want to bash Republicans. We’ll just take a page out of the Democratic playbook: What difference does it make whether a company receiving a subsidy from the state is foreign or not? That’s just a dog whistle to Evers’ supporters that it’s okay to dislike Asians. In the days after the violence in Charlottesville, Evers’ campaign to keep Wisconsin free of Asian manufacturers is racist and it’s wrong.

But a recurring problem with Evers is how he uses funny math. Evers claims that the state’s public schools have never recovered from the funding cut in 2012. That would be ignoring the change in state law, Act 10, that occurred at the same time. That law, which has saved taxpayers over $5 billion, allowed school districts to make up for the cuts by saving on teacher health plans and benefits. If school districts actually used the savings allowed under Act 10, the money that was cut by the state was made up in the benefit cost savings.

Before Act 10, in the days of Democratic Governor Jim Doyle’s tax-and-spend policies, school districts couldn’t keep up financially. Milwaukee Public Schools was going to lay off over 500 teachers before a federal teacher bailout prevented it.

Act 10 changed that.

Despite the success of Act 10 in helping the state’s public schools, Evers continues to criticize the law. He blames it for a teacher shortage even though research shows that Act 10 is not the cause. In fact, the teacher shortage is a bigger problem in other states that do not have a law like Act 10.

But even if we don’t include the savings from Act 10, Dr. Will Flanders of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty points out (again) in response to Evers’ email that school districts have caught up:

It is true that spending was cut in 2012 as a response to the end of federal stimulus. The state had a massive hole in its budget, and all parts of state government took a hit. However, the vast majority of those cuts have been restored. Nominally, spending is more today than ten years ago.  Moreover, under the proposals of the Senate and Governor regarding per pupil aid, spending is likely to be at the highest level in the history of the state even after inflation adjustments by 2019.

Instead of running for governor, perhaps Evers should go back to school.

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