The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has released the legally required district report cards for the 2022-2023 school year. If the results do not make you feel shame and anger, then you do not really care about education.
The annual report card measures school districts, and the schools that comprise them, on several factors including achievement on benchmarking exams, absenteeism, graduation rates, and relative improvement or regression from the prior year. Most of the score, however, is based on performance.
According to the report cards, the Milwaukee Public School District “meets expectations” with an overall score of 58. The West Bend School District also “meets expectations” with an overall score of 68.8. According to the results of the Wisconsin Forward Exam, 45.8% of students in West Bend and 15.8% of students in Milwaukee are proficient at English Language Arts. Similarly, only 55.1% of students in West Bend and 11.5% of students in Milwaukee are proficient in math.
Let us focus on the phrase “meets expectations.” Does the fact that less than half of the kids in West Bend can read or write meet their parents’ expectations? How about the fact that one in ten kids in Milwaukee can do math at their grade level? Does that meet their expectations? Do parents, teachers, and taxpayers in those districts look at these numbers, shrug their shoulders, and say, “meh, good enough”? Apparently, many of them do, but why does this kind of abysmal performance meet the state DPI’s expectations? And why do both districts meet the DPI’s expectations when Milwaukee’s scores are so much lower? Does the DPI’s lower expectations of Milwaukee reveal a soft bigotry?
The fact is that some of you have lowered your expectations so much that you are willing to accept sending ignorant, semi-literate kids into a world in which they are not equipped to be successful. The fact that that “meets expectations” is a stain on our society.
Furthermore, when one compares the spending per student to the report card scores, there is a slight correlation. That is, there is a slight negative correlation. The data shows that the more that a district spends per student, the more likely it is that the district’s overall score will decrease.
For example, the Slinger district spends about $13,730 per student and exceeds expectations. The Monroe District spends about $17,793 per student and just meets expectations. The districts are otherwise similar in terms of racial makeup, number of economically disadvantaged students, number of native English speakers, and other factors. Why is Monroe spending almost 30% more per student than Slinger to get worse results?
Money is not the answer to making education better in Wisconsin. In fact, the data shows that more money makes it worse. There is one thing, however, that has been providing a better education for tens of thousands of Wisconsin kids and the Democrats are trying to kill it.
School choice. For almost 35 years, some kids in Milwaukee have had the opportunity to escape their failed government schools where 11.5% of kids are proficient in math to go to a better school of their choice. That choice was expanded to Racine in 2011 and then statewide in 2013. These school choice programs have opened new, previously unavailable, doors to thousands of kids who are getting an education that meets their parents’ expectations – irrespective of whether or not the educrats in Madison think about their local government schools.
With the new leftist majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, a group of leftist Democrats have filed suit demanding that all three Wisconsin school choice programs be ended. The plaintiffs have asked for the Supreme Court to take up the case directly without letting the case work its way through lower courts. Despite the fact that school choice has been ruled legal and constitutional for over 30 years and in courts all over the nation, there is a very real chance that the leftist zealots on the Wisconsin Supreme Court may end school choice in Wisconsin by this time next year.
If the Wisconsin Supreme Court kills school choice, they will force tens of thousands of kids back into the government education gulags where ignorance and failure “meets expectations.” I am ashamed of our state’s poor government schools and angry that so many people find that they “meet expectations.” You should be too.
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