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Reality Check: Falk Ad Blames Walker For School Cuts

Published On: Mar 20 2012 09:35:15 AM CDT   Updated On: Mar 21 2012 09:35:43 AM CDT

A new ad supporting former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk in a likely recall election says that Gov. Scott Walker's budget gutted education and blames him for increased class sizes.

A group called Wisconsin for Falk has taken up the cause for Falk, but don't be fooled. It isn't Falk's campaign running the ads.

The group is registered as a corporation with the Government Accountability Board and will eventually have to file to say who their donors are. Their website says they accept donations from individuals, businesses, labor and trade organizations supporting Falk, although they've legally sworn they're not coordinating with the campaign.

However, the group's treasurer is Michael Vaughn, who used to be the operations director of the liberal group, We are Wisconsin.

"I want to improve our schools," the ad shows Walker saying in his State of the State speech.

"Scott Walker, you can't improve our schools when you cut $800 million from education," said someone in the ad in response to Walker's statement.

WISC-TV finds it's true the governor's budget did cut some $800 million from public school funding, but Walker has said he gave local school districts the ability to deal with the cuts by making changes to collective bargaining so classrooms didn't need to be affected by the changes.

The ad says that didn't happen.

"(Wisconsin schools had) increased class sizes and (there are) 3,000 fewer educators in our schools," says the ad.

WISC-TV finds these claims needs clarification. First, the governor didn't directly increase class sizes or cut educators. Local school districts and superintendents manage their own budgets and make choices as to how they will deal with less funding.

According to the state Department of Public Instruction, there are 1,655 fewer teachers this year and around 1,700 jobs for aides, administrators and support staff are gone. Most of those are due to retirements or cutting open positions, not layoffs, officials said.

Class sizes did go up in 144 districts, which is about 40 percent of districts statewide, officials said.

This ad appears on the website for the state teachers union WEAC, who has endorsed Falk. WEAC confirmed they are supportive of Wisconsin for Falk, and said any specifics would be reported in compliance with state law.

Eventually campaign finance reports will show how much they may have contributed, WISC-TV reported.

  • PHOTOS: Madison store helps collect hundreds of Teddy bears for police

    MADISON, Wis.--A west Madison store is part of an effort to collect hundreds of stuffed animals to donate to six police departments in Southern Wisconsin.

    Todd Merryfield, owner of The Learning Shop at 714 S. Gammon Road, said the store is collecting the bears for officers who use them to help comfort children with whom police come in contact.

    "This is a great way to support what (police) do," Merryfield said. "Those are the kids that need something like this to reassure them, calm them down, and let them know that things are all right."

    Nearly 500 plush animals were donated Tuesday, a Learning Shop spokeswoman said. The Madison store's effort is part of a larger initiative through the Bears for Humanity organization. 

    Photos by Doug Wahl

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