College News

Evers’ win welcomes new era of education policy

Following progressive support of education policy, Evers’ win means future changes to state funding, post-secondary investment and supporting innovation in STEM and liberal arts programs.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger and Cameron Lane-Flehinger

After a slew of key absentee ballots arrived from Milwaukee, Governor-elect Tony Evers carried the lead throughout the night, eventually succeeding Scott Walker in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Now, he has gained the opportunity to achieve goals of changing public education that his campaign was built on.

Throughout his run for governor, he hit hard on the Board of Regents, lack of state support and increasing investment into post-secondary as well as public schools.

Evers’ ambition to improve educational policy and access has not gone unnoticed as he traveled up the ranks from teacher to state superintendent.

He heavily advocated for more investment in post-secondary education, notably throughout the UW System and technical schools. He noted that the rise of graduate debt is due to lacking investments of the state that will offset costs of high tuition.

“I believe in the UW System. It’s a good investment for the state,” Evers said. “But students and their parents need to be active in the issue of having adequate resources. It cannot just come from the students, it has to come from the state.”

Though he does not disagree on Walker’s decision to freeze tuition, he supports lowering the cost of college. But, not at the loss of state funds.

“The state funding is where the rubber hits the road,” Evers said. “For [the freeze] to work, we need more state money. That’s the bottom line.”

When the Regents were tasked with agreeing on a new budget in August, Evers helped up the sole hand to vote nay. At the time, he reflected on the importance of state money to make up for the budget’s tuition freeze for in-state undergraduates.

Evers is seeking to increase Wisconsin schools funding by $1.4 billion more — a 10 percent increase from years past. This is the highest it has been since the mid-1990s. He has planned the 2019-’21 state budget to see a $339.8 million increase in the first year and $1.1 billion the second year.

“His vision includes a commitment to reinvest in the UW System, to restore tenure and shared governance rights and to fund the tuition freeze,” said Elena Levy-Navarro, the Vice President of UW-Whitewater’s American Association of University Professors Chapter.

When Evers heard that UW-Stevens Point was at risk of losing 13 humanities degrees, he stated this could “trigger system-wide cuts” to liberal arts programs.

Advocates for the cuts claimed slashing majors was a response to the shifting job market to STEM majors, which Evers’ responded, “Bullshit.” The program cuts were the result of campuses inability to afford them, he stated during a Reclaim the UW protest.

Brain drain after graduating — when students leave the state to pursue careers elsewhere — led universities to suffer, which caused Evers to encourage the support and reward of innovative research programs for faculty and students. He noted the importance of keeping graduates in the state.

As the shift begins to a new gubernatorial era, Evers is tasked with picking up the pieces Walker will leave at the end of his term in January. One of those key pieces: the state budget balance sheet.

“Does the state have a surplus or deficit?” Radomski asked. “This is imperative for the governor-elect, legislators, the media and the public to know. As soon as possible.”

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