When voters went to the polls in November, I doubt that they thought school performance would be one of the first items on the agenda. Aren’t there more pressing problems in the state that need attention?
As a public school teacher for 42 years now living in Iola, I see public schools as an integral part of each community whether rural or urban. In many cases, they are the largest employer, as well as the reason people chose to come to a community.
For our legislators to waste time, personnel, money, and energy coming up with a report card so they can hand out D’s and F’s is punitive, not only to the schools, but to the students who attend those schools. And then to hand those schools to a private enterprise in the form of “an independent charter school” does not ensure improvement, still costs the taxpayers money through vouchers, and often relinquishes local control to outside interests.
Other states, such as Michigan and Missouri, have tried this “punishment” method and failed miserably. Wisconsin should rise to a new level of reform putting public education first and foremost for every single child in this state: make sure every school is equipped with up-to-date technology; empower teachers as professionals to create authentic, engaging curriculum; heal relationships with families; hire additional early childhood educators, social workers, teachers, counselors, healthcare workers for the districts; ensure there is economic opportunities for the families where poverty is prevalent; and, in the upper grades, ensure that students are being trained in skills they will need to be productive citizens.
If we do not take care of our children in this state, the cycle of poverty in education and poverty of money will continue to plague Wisconsin tax payers as the youth become adults where they rely on welfare for survival or end up in our criminal system. Let us stop the cycle instead of labeling them for life with an F.