Students battle Wisconsin austerity

‘Another budget is possible’

Protests to oppose gutting all aspects of public education and related austerity continue in Milwaukee and across Wisconsin.

Another series of protest actions took place, including the June 11 “Another Budget Is Possible” protest at the state Capitol sponsored by unions and student and community organizations, including the Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement.

The Milwaukee Teachers Education Association, Schools and Communities United, and Youth Empowered in the Struggle have been leading ongoing actions in Milwaukee, including daily “walk-ins,” packing school board meetings and engaging in numerous community activities to demand that public education austerity in the proposed state budget be stricken immediately. The progressive faith-based community also hit the streets on June 11 with an “Out of the Pews and Into the Streets” protest.

Faculty, students and staff in the University of Wisconsin System have been another leading force in the fight for public education. University of Wisconsin Students Against Education Cuts has been sponsoring and supporting demonstrations and other events in Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee and elsewhere.

“We oppose the privatization of education through austerity measures and the corporate restructuring of our universities and K-12 schools. We need to increase resistance and solidarity between people all over the country,” said Paul Ahrens, co-director of UWSAEC.

The proposed 2015-17 state budget contains some of the worst austerity measures for public education in Wisconsin history, which are designed to benefit corporations, bankers and bondholders. It includes mass statewide expansion of charter schools, proposals to privatize Milwaukee Public Schools and fire union members, massive budget cuts, and the proposed complete elimination of tenure and shared governance in the UW System. This is on top of over $1 billion in cuts to public K-12 and higher education since right-wing Gov. Scott Walker took office in 2011.

The proposed budget also attacks every poor and working person with provisions like gutting environmental laws and agencies, cuts to state parks, numerous deregulation schemes, and wiping out workers’ compensation and prevailing wage laws. Wall Street operatives like the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Bradley Foundation helped formulate the majority of Wisconsin’s 2015-17 austerity budget.

Virtually all public forums to discuss the budget have been reduced or eliminated by the right-wing controlled Legislature and Walker. Many poor and working people have been physically locked out of legislative chambers by the police when demanding their union and communities’ voices be heard.

Ahrens stated, “Our only option is to unite and build a broad-based movement which grows into a social structure that is truly representative of the people who live and work in this economy that is crushing us. We need to take over the political system to serve our interests rather than the interests of a select few who only seek to increase their wealth and privilege.”

For more information on the Wisconsin budget struggle, see UWStudentsAgainstCuts on Facebook, #NoMPStakeover and