A WISCONSIN EDUCATION HAS FOR DECADES BEEN CONSIDERED STATE-OF-THE-ART AND A LEADER IN THE NATIONAL CONVERSATION ON EDUCATION.
This matters because it means our children are ready to solve the biggest challenges we may face over the coming generations. The decisions made over the past eight years do not have to define our future. We can build the next chapter of education investment and excellence. We simply have to make different choices. Those choices revolve around funding, access, innovation, and equity from preschool through our technical colleges and UW System. It’s not enough to simply replace the $1.5 billion cut during those eight years, but we must give the experts – the teachers – time to meet the changing needs and opportunities of our classroom. If we make real changes to how we approach, assess, and fund education, we can deal head-on with the pervasive school to prison pipeline that has plagued many of our communities, and bring back Wisconsin’s legacy as a leader in education.
Therefore as Lieutenant Governor, I plan to champion education as a main pillar of my time in office. My efforts will focus specifically on:
- Fair Funding: We need to implement the Fair Funding for Our Future plan. This plan reforms the school funding system by guaranteeing a minimum amount of state funding for every student, which provides much-needed resources to districts that currently receive little to no state aide. More details about the plan can be found on the DPI website. It will also incent all school districts to invest in resources like guidance counselors vs. reactive, expensive, punitive policies that are discriminatory toward students of color.
- Education for All: Access to education means guaranteeing every child has early childhood education, from birth to kindergarten, for free. The world is changing fast and the best thing we can do is to invest in our children in their first critical years of brain development. We need to support families by providing access to quality child care, in every community. These changes will help close the achievement gap by ensuring everyone starts with a more equal footing.
- Student-Centric Teaching: For generations, educators in Wisconsin have been defining best practices that meet the needs of their students. We need to give them the time to generate and implement their innovative ideas about engaging students in lifelong learning. One important step would be to review the current assessment practices across the state and decrease the amount of standardized testing time with plans to move toward more student-centered authentic assessments like portfolios. With educators no longer bound to curriculum catered to these exams, this would lead to more student-centered learning choices, parent engagement, community-based educational programming and problem-focused learning. We need to eliminate the one-size-fits-all Forward Exam for state accountability and replace it with a computer adaptive test that provides timely feedback more personalized for each student while adding the benefit of reducing the number of tests taken each year by students.
- Seamless Lifelong Learning: Education across our state has to be more connected. In a world that is rapidly changing, we should enable early education, K-12, and secondary institutions, including our technical colleges and the UW Extensions to work together. These organizations can create a seamless journey that matches the unique needs of every citizen in our state. The school-business partnerships driving the Career Pathway Programs, portfolio assessments, Community-Based Schools, and the UW-Madison Teacher Education Innovation Center are a few examples of how we can make this connectivity come to life.
These are choices we can make. As your Lieutenant Governor, I will choose to bring these changes to life with the following first steps.
From Day One in Office:
- Work with educators, school administrators, and legislators around the state to pass a fiscal budget that makes public education priority number one in Wisconsin.
- Call for a study to understand the cost of universal preschool. It would explore the added productivity to our state’s economy if parents don’t have to worry about childcare costs and the comparison of spending money on early childhood education versus corrections facilities.
- Work with school districts, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, and legislators to evaluate the current effectiveness and budget of our current statewide accountability tests (Forward Exam). Suggest computer-adaptive models and a move toward more authentic measures like portfolios.
- Meet with School Administrators, UW system researchers, and WI DPI to create a list of successful innovations currently underway in WI.
Within the First 6 Months in Office:
- Establish education committees around the state that includes educators, students, and parents that will provide guidance and feedback on the new state budget and new education funding plan, so that educators always have a voice in how state government funds schools in Wisconsin and that the best ideas rise to the top.
- Organize a committee to plan pilot programs for preschool in selected communities, that includes mechanisms for family, educator, and community involvement.
- Organize a committee for statewide teacher professional development implementation of life-long learner e-portfolios that will also review how we can change and decrease the number of statewide accountability measures.
- Identify statewide school district improvement innovations that are successful, start funding research collaborations and facilitate the sharing of ideas.
Throughout my term:
I will be the number one champion of the Wisconsin Idea and the UW System. The UW System is not only a crown jewel of our state, it’s what enables our citizens to naturally transition through advancements in agriculture, manufacturing, and biotech. We need to preserve this excellence and foster it to work for every single citizen in every county.