Ingrid Henry of the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association (MTEA) – Remarks at April 6, 2023 Press Conference at State Budget Hearing

Ingrid Henry, Vice President of the MTEA April 6, 2023 in Waukesha, WI
Photo: Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association

Public education advocates, including MTEA Vice President Ingrid Henry Walker, and new citywide School Board Elect Missy Zombor spoke at a press conference held outside the Waukesha Joint Finance Committee public hearing today to express the need for the state’s $7.1 billion budget surplus to be spent on greater funding for public education.

Here is what Ingrid Walker Henry had to say:

“My name is Ingrid Walker-Henry, I speak today as the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association Vice President.

There are times in life when you have the opportunity to get it right. This is one of those times. The children and families of Wisconsin have spoken time and time again through many referendums. Our schools and communities are tired of suffering, and today we are demanding that officials across the state of Wisconsin stand up and do what is right.

With the proposed budget, public students in Wisconsin compared to 2011 allocations, will still fall behind on average by $3,600 in year one and $4,000 in year two.

Wisconsin has built an enormous budget surplus by defunding our public schools for more than a decade – the results are clearly evident in schools across the state. Staff have left the profession and not enough young people are entering the field of education. Districts do not have the staff or resources necessary to provide students with the opportunities they deserve. It is past time the state of Wisconsin reinvests in one of its most precious assets, its children.

The Joint Finance Committee can and should go above what Governor Evers’ budget recommends.

This includes a $1500 per pupil increase and 60% Special Ed funding in year one and 90% in year two of the budget.

JFC members should show our students – and students at home in their own districts – that they are committed to using a substantial piece of this record surplus to invest in, to recruit, and retain quality public education workers and the services and opportunities every Wisconsin student deserves.

Go above and beyond what the Governor has recommended and start making our students and communities whole again.”

Milwaukee Public Schools and districts across the state have faced a decade of underfunding, and our schools are in crisis. Our state legislature is sitting on an unprecedented $7.1 billion budget surplus while our public schools face growing staff shortages and dwindling resources that adversely affect our students and communities. Educators who remain face overwhelming workloads, stagnant salaries, and pay inequity. Well over 3,000 MPS workers have signed a petition calling on our state’s elected leaders to pass a budget prioritizing public education and our state’s children. The budget surplus has created a critical opportunity to re-invest in our public schools. Public opinion polls have shown that urban, rural, and suburban voters all support increases in compensation for educators. We intend to seize this moment through a variety of actions, including this event as well as a community art build being held April 15-16 at South Division High School in Milwaukee to unite every district across the state and help engage the public through political education while sharing our story, demands, and aspirational solutions.

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