Making education a Wisconsin Priority
It’s time to make education a Wisconsin priority once again, because we all want good public schools and the chance for our kids to be able to attend an affordable college. A great educational system is a key to the success of our kids, attracting families and businesses to our state, maintaining property values and growing our economy with good-paying, family-sustaining jobs.
It’s possible to provide every child in Wisconsin with a great public school education and here’s how.
Execute a one school year plan to substantially improve student outcomes
We will provide the very best public school education and achieve the necessary improvement in student success by working together to achieve clearly defined goals, properly funding all initiatives, making system changes so schools are treated with true equity, and by measuring progress consistently and transparently.
Make kids the central most important people in our education system
In order for Wisconsin public education to offer all kids an inspired future, we must put students at the center of our educational system and make them the most important people in the classroom. We will connect our students to the best teachers, learning programs and techniques, and real-life experiences needed for them to thrive in 21st-century.
Make public education the very best choice for our kids
Wisconsin taxpayers cannot support two systems of education. Our system of public education will:
- Focus funding on public schools and stop the expansion of the voucher system;
- Define consistent goals by which academic success will be measured and reported by all schools receiving state funding so students can be transitioned back to public schools when they are the best choice;
- Simplify the funding formula so all schools are treated with equity and kids receive the same quality education no matter where they live;
- Restore local control so schools have the flexibility to apply state structured funding in ways that maximally benefit students;
- Deploy an agreed upon suite of national best practices and empower schools to apply the tools most appropriate for the school;
- Eliminate the achievement gap by providing the same instruction, encouragement, support, and mentorship to all students;
- Connect all schools to high-speed Internet and all students to computer literacy;
- Mandate that long route school buses be Wi-Fi enabled;
- Implement programs to improve efficiency and return the savings realized to local school budgets to enhance learning programs.
Restore the voice of teachers in our classrooms
There is no relationship more important in the classroom than the connection a student has with their teacher. And, no one person can impact the quality of education and recommend workable solutions to address specific classroom challenges more than teachers themselves. That’s why it’s vital to restore the voice of our teachers and recruit the most talented professionals capable of helping to shape young lives. We accomplish this by:
- Restoring collective bargaining rights;
- Reviewing compensation packages so they are structured to reward inspired education and learning;
- Testing appropriately and streamlining reporting to empower more one-on-one teaching;
- Maintaining professional teaching standards in Wisconsin.
School Voucher Program
Andy Gronik believes in public school education and would eliminate the voucher program over five years.
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, there are “more than 35,000 students who attend a private school using a taxpayer subsidy – including 28,000 in the Milwaukee program.” Any candidate for governor who says they will immediately discontinue the voucher program without a thoughtful and appropriate transition is period pandering on this divisive topic for political gain, is not being intellectually honest, and is contributing to a system that is horribly broken the consequences of which is the continued loss in life potential of generations of kids.
Andy Gronik will eliminate the school voucher program by first stopping the expansion of the program. His 2019 budget will reflect spending on vouchers comparable to that of 2018 while public school funding will see a substantial increase during this same period so public schools can begin to recover from Gov Walker’s eight-year starvation diet. During this time period, we will implement a one-school-year plan to substantially improve student outcomes and deploy nationally recognized best practices. We will also restore local control so schools can direct funding to the areas most needed and implement the best practices required to best address the challenges of the kids in their schools.
Spending on voucher schools will sunset over a total of five years with spending projected to decrease proportionately over each of the next four years to zero. At the same time, we will invest additional funds to address the potential needs of students in districts facing the greatest challenges and inequities.
Until we can end the voucher program, we will hold every school receiving any public dollars to the same high standards of accountability and transparency, as well as performance. As a condition of receiving any public funding in years 2 through 5, the performance of all schools in year one will be measured using consistent objective and subjective metrics. Voucher schools disqualified by these test results will not be eligible to receive state funding in future years. Need-based metrics, such as an earnings cap adjusted for the number of children enrolled, will also be implemented in years 2 through 5 to determine eligibility to receive voucher benefits.
Parents everywhere in Wisconsin are desperately seeking the kind of quality education for their children that will allow them to go on to live successful lives. Communities of color are disproportionately affected by inequities in our public school system. Andy Gronik will be a governor who will fight for great public school education for all kids. He is not going to remove a child from a safe and productive learning environment and return them to their neighborhood public school until that school is the very best choice.
Badger Learning Bridge
Kids need to be able to show up at school ready to learn in order for any education system to be successful. Wisconsin public schools create a necessary bridge between the realities of a child’s life and the likely realities of their future. That’s why public schools will:
- Expand the free and reduced lunch program;
- Help identify the family services and counseling needed to promote a safe, happy, and productive learning environment;
- Coordinate with Wisconsin technical schools, colleges and universities to create the support system needed to reduce high school dropout rates and improve graduation rates at institutions of higher learning.
Badger Learning Channel
Wisconsin will innovate the Badger Learning Channel (BLC) and lead the nation in providing experiential learning programs. BLC will:
- Expose kids in every classroom to the best teachers in the state and around the world;
- Create virtual internships so students can get their hands dirty working with Wisconsin employers solving real-world problems that mirror the school curriculum;
- Connect students to apprentice opportunities that attract students to job opportunities throughout Wisconsin.
Badger Brain Trust
Wisconsin will offer early childhood education to every child who needs it through a new program called the Badger Brain Trust (BBT). We have one chance in a child’s life when their brain is developing to provide the early childhood education necessary for a child to thrive or pay the enormous societal consequences. One of many goals of BBT will be to close the academic achievement gap, reduce the cost of government assistance programs in the future, and lead the country by innovating cost-effective solutions to make early childhood education part of every child’s young life. We’ll accomplish this by establishing a variety of public-private partnerships to:
- Provide early childhood education to every child who needs it;
- Offer on-site and online certification programs to daycare operators to increase their YoungStar ratings and improve the quality of their care;
- Expand support to low-income families through healthcare providers;
- Engage faith-based organizations in offering community support to young parents;
- Develop online and cellular technologies to prompt early learning exercises.
BBT College Scholarships
Badger Brain Trust will also provide a free college education to the children of Wisconsin families who have the grades to attend college but not have the money. Scholarships will be a last-dollar reward, after considering all other sources of financial aid for which the student may be eligible, similar to that which is currently being proposed by UW-Madison. Funding will come from private gifts and innovative programs structured between Wisconsin employers to retain young talent in the state. Students must satisfy a variety of requirements including but not limited to the following:
- Students and their families must be residents of Wisconsin;
- The program will consider an earnings cap for eligibility (for example, the UW-Madison cap is $56,000 or less);
- Students must graduate from high school with a minimum 3.0 grade point average and meet enrollment requirements;
- Graduate from an eligible high school, home study program, or earn a GED and score in the 75th percentile or higher on the SAT or ACT prior to high school graduation.
Pay Back Student Debt
BadgerCLAW Student Debt Repayment Program (BadgerCLAW) helps young graduates living and working in Wisconsin full-time for at least six months to pay back student loans by applying their state income tax to paying down their student debt until it is fully retired. BadgerCLAW sends a loud and clear message to young people everywhere that they are important to the future of Wisconsin and gives businesses a recruiting and retention tool to attract young leaders and future job creators to help grow their companies with good-paying jobs throughout our state.