The following post was written by Thomas Beebe, Project Manager for Opportunity to Learn - Wisconsin. The post was originally published on the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools website, and is reprinted here with his permission.
Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers was in Milwaukee, Sept. 26, to discuss with educators, students, parents, and community members “what to expect when you’re expecting more budget cuts.”
Two very different stories have been duking it out in Wisconsin newspaper articles, editorial pages and airwaves in the aftermath of Gov. Scott Walker’s $1.6 billion cut to the state’s public schools.
In one corner is Walker himself. Reacting to suggestions that the quality of the state’s public schools will be hurt by the largest cut to education in the state’s history, Walker has defied logic by repeatedly saying that Wisconsin schools will be "the same or better" as a result of the cuts.
Since the passage of the state budget, many in Wisconsin have wondered what impact a $1.6 billion cut would mean for our schools and students.
Now we know.
In Lost Opportunity: A 50 State Report on the Opportunity to Learn in America, the Schott Foundation for Public Education establishes a metric for determining the opportunity to learn for students. Providing a state-by-state comparison of both academic proficiency (percentage of students scoring at or above proficient on the eighth grade NAEP reading exam) and equity (as measured by the Schott Foundation’s Opportunity to Learn Index, or OTLI), Lost Opportunity identifies the four baseline minimum resources that are necessary for a child – regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status – to have a fair and substantive Opportunity to Learn.
In the United States, every student should have the equal right to a high-quality education. But as our most recent data demonstrates, for far too many students, quality and equity are aspirations, not realities. Few states are providing public school educations that result in academic proficiency for students. And even fewer states are providing access to a high-quality education to all students, particularly those from historically disadvantaged groups.
Wisconsin has a $900 million budget surplus.
In part, and in one of the great injustices in state history, it was built on the backs of over 800,000 children in our public schools.
The moral and equitable thing to do is begin fixing the damage that was done to our public schools and at least make a down-payment on the cuts of the past.
Nationally recognized researcher and academic Devon Carlson will be in Wisconsin in November on a week-long tour to talk about the impact on students, schools, and communities of using public tax dollars for private schools — better known as the voucher program.
Around 1000 public education advocates from across Wisconsin gathered in Milwaukee on Sept. 21 for the second “Public Education is a Civil Right March and Rally.”
If you support Wisconsin's outstanding public schools, Milwaukee is the place to be on Saturday, Sept. 21. Students, parents, active and retired educators and school administrators, clergy, civil rights groups and community leaders will be hosting the second "Public Education is A Civil Right March and Rally." Now is the time to stand up for the public schools and children in every corner of Wisconsin!
The 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book provides a detailed picture of how children are faring in the United States. In addition to ranking states on overall child well-being, the Data Book ranks states in four domains: Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family and Community.