GroWis: For Education That Works

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.

Milwaukee Public Schools

Many things have to happen right from the start to help MPS improve student outcomes. It will be a balancing act but must include restoring local control, empowering decisive action, and a fairer funding model. It’s also important to recognize that success at MPS requires addressing systemic problems both inside and outside the school buildings.

I see MPS, and the education crisis more broadly in Wisconsin, as one of the principle reasons why I decided to run for governor. I refuse to lose another generation of kids in Milwaukee to lives trapped in poverty and hopelessness when there is something we can do about it.

There has not been enough action to address these systemic issues. While the solutions are not easy, and there is a lack of consensus on the best path forward, what I refuse to do as your next governor is nothing. This issue will have my attention, involvement, and passion. And, I will own the results.

I care about the kids in school in Milwaukee, and throughout our state, and I’m bound and determined to see all kids in Wisconsin receive the very best public school education in the country.

Inside the Building

  1. Prioritize funding Wisconsin’s public schools so educators have the resources needed to ensure specifically defined objective and subjective measures of educational success.
  2. Simplify the funding formula so all schools are treated with equity.
  3. Stop the expansion of vouchers and sunset the program over 5 years. Wisconsin taxpayers cannot afford to fund two separate systems of education. Transitions kids in voucher schools back to their neighborhood public school when it is it is determined to be the best choice for learning.
  4. Invest additional funds in districts (like MPS) facing the greatest challenges and inequities.
  5. Restore local control so the people closest to the challenges have a real voice in the solutions needed system-wide and within individual schools. I will immediately bring people around the table who have very unique perspectives of the obstacles and who can recommend solutions that will work. Seated at this table will be past and present students, teachers, administrators and school board members, as well as community leaders, stakeholders, conventional and unconventional education experts, innovators and others.  The best ideas will come from listening to these individuals and by considering nationally recognized best practices with a proven track record of success when presented with similar challenges.
  6. Empower narrow decision-making authority to execute upon the solutions identified through the process identified above.  This is essential to moving forward with urgency and breaking the stalemate.
  7. Consider restructuring MPS into smaller districts with more localized decision-making authority.
  8. Put in place a one school year plan that implements the best practices needed to address the unique challenges offered by the students in the classroom and align compensation plans to reward the achievement of defined goals.
  9. Measure defined results transparently because right now the bar is moving — making it impossible to know if we’re moving forward, backward or sideways.  Success should not simply be measured by test results. There are objective and subjective measures of success and both should be used including graduation rates, employability, success with higher education, etc.
  10. Restore teachers to the bargaining table so their voices are heard as the most important connection to great education in the classroom.
  11. Elevate teaching standards and recognize and compensate teachers for inspired teaching and education results.
  12. Offer early childhood education to every child that needs it so all children show up to school on a level playing field and ready to learn.
  13. Expand free and reduced lunch programs to include days off and holidays so hungry kids have the ability and energy to learn.
  14. Identify kids at risk and build a bridge to their families so everyone receives the support needed to allow every child to attend school able to learn.
  15. Treat kids in the classroom equally so everyone believes they have the power to create their own future.
  16. Introduce mentorship programs to engage adult role models in helping ensure student success during and after school.
  17. Introduce student tutoring programs to engage students in lifting their peers to academic success.
  18. Embrace experiential learning so students acquire skills solving real-world problems that reinforce the kind of life skills needed to be successful.
  19. Introduce virtual apprenticeship programs to teach skills needed to be successful in life.
  20. Create after-school apprenticeship programs that teach life and job skills.
  21. Make financial literacy coursework requisite to graduation.
  22. Offer early support from higher education to improve graduation rates and reduce first-year dropout rates from technical schools, two-year colleges or four-year universities.
  23. Provide free college to every child with the grades, but not the money, with last-dollar rewards after considering all other sources of financial aid.

Outside the Building

  1. Invest in prenatal care so babies are born healthy.
  2. Replace lead pipes so children are not impaired with a lifetime of learning disabilities.
  3. Improve YoungStar ratings of daycare operations through onsite and online certification programs so kids receive the stimulation needed to learn while their parents are at work.  
  4. Allow parents to bank daycare benefits and use them on weekends as needed.
  5. Create partnerships with afterschool programs to engage kids in activities that are fun and instructive.
  6. Support parenting programs so all parents have the tools needed to help their kids to be successful.
  7. Implement jobs training programs that pay families a living wage while they acquire the skills needed to be successful in their community and throughout the state.
  8. Eliminate systemic obstacles to building a life free of government assistance.
  9. Admit institutional racism is a fact so all conversations about solutions begin with everyone acknowledging the problem.
  10. Stop locking people up for non-violent crimes so both parents can participate in raising their kids.
  11. Support neighborhood groups building community and fighting crime.
  12. Restore community policing and build trust with community members.

The plans set forth at offer realistic and pragmatic solutions that will create a Wisconsin That Works for everyone.