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- UW-Milwaukee Graduation Numbers for Black Students Plummet Even Further
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Education Freedom: One minute at a time A short series of videos profiling parents and educators who share unique perspectives,…
At a time when the job market is begging for graduates with bachelor’s degrees, the opportunity for many Black students to earn a college degree is being squandered. The number of Black students entering UW-Milwaukee — the UW school with the largest Black population — has been steadily decreasing in recent years.
A new poll last month asked 700 likely voters, “Do you generally support or oppose school choice?” and 70% said “support.” That’s a landslide. Sure, the idea was big with Republicans, but 67% of independents favor choice. A majority of Democrats, 53%, did.
When parents choose a public school with more options for their children, the state provides less money. Why?
When Jalisa Hawkins decided to transfer her daughter from one Beloit public school to another, the state cut the sum taxpayers spend on the child’s education by about 40% for no good reason.
Beloit families needed better options when it came to educating their children. A charter school, The Lincoln Academy, only two years old, is providing them — even as it works in the underfunded part of public education.
Teaching is a complex task, at its best a performing art. You get summers off, but you’re grading papers at night all winter, drawing on depths of patience and stamina. You’d qualify for sainthood if you gave 100% every day as your employer’s check showed indifference. Act 10 freed districts to quantify their appreciation for diligence. Teachers responded to the appreciation. This is right and just.
Parents who favor charter and choice schools often do so because they’re better suited to a family’s values. But Wisconsin puts a price tag on family values when the gap between funding traditional public school students and charter or choice students is so drastic. That’s why the Badger Institute is calling on Wisconsin lawmakers to close the gap through equal funding for charter and choice schools… and to celebrate character in the process.
Starting from a deficit…
That’s the reality for Wisconsin choice and charter schools that receive a fraction of the per-pupil funding that traditional public schools receive.
Close the gap and, in the words of Kingdom Prep principal Kevin Festerling, “We could open up five more of these tomorrow. We could say yes to more parents and more students.”
Innovation in public education is a good thing. You can hear it in the voices of students from Pathways High, where diverse needs are met through personal attention and creative collaboration.The state sends a different signal, however — especially when it comes to funding those students. Independent charter schools like Pathways are public schools. Yet they receive thousands of dollars less per student than traditional public schools.
Pathways, a public school, gets $9,200 per pupil from taxpayers, the funding Wisconsin offers to all charter schools. By contrast, the average district public school in Wisconsin spends about $15,300 per child, the latest “total education cost,” according to the Department of Public Instruction. Why the gap?
For decades, “a lot of kids didn’t get phonics instruction or much of it,” said Hanford. “They weren’t taught how to sound out the written words. And it became pretty clear by the 90s that that had been a big mistake.”
Nancy’s hope is that more schools in Wisconsin would be a blessing to kids like hers. And many schools would . . . if they received the same amount of funding that public schools receive per student. If you struggle to see the sense in setting a student’s worth based on the school they attend, you’re not alone. Education freedom is about funding students, not systems, structures or institutions.
Students with special needs are eligible for state categorical aids and federal aid while attending either an independent charter or traditional public school. Unfortunately, there are still systemic funding inequities. Local and state funding for traditional public schools exceeds that of independent charter schools by thousands of dollars per student.
Lisa McCloskey: If this is about the children, then make it about the children and not about bureaucracy and dollars only to traditional schooling. This is not a cookie-cutter type of situation where everyone learns the same thing at the same time at the same level. Not so with my daughter.
“It’s becoming more and more important that we raise up generations of young people who know what’s right and wrong, who know what’s truth and what’s false,” said Festerling.
“If we don’t do that, they’re going to go off to these wolves who will eat them alive. And so I’m just so thrilled that school choice is giving guys who have a book called the Bible, that can preach the truth and the gospel, and if parents like that and want that, they’ll subscribe to it and send their kids.”
Parents are hungry for schools where opportunity abounds — where kids are taught to lead lives of purpose for the good of their families, their communities and their futures.
Yet, it’s difficult to create that opportunity when Wisconsin students are so inequitably funded. Students attending choice schools are funded at 60% the value of their public-school counterparts, meaning schools must spend time and energy raising funds in order to provide the quality education that every child deserves.
The landscape of childcare in Wisconsin faces a problem: Evidence suggests that an overemphasis on quality regulation likely has driven some providers out of the market, resulting in fewer low-income children served by Wisconsin Shares, the state’s subsidized childcare program, and less overall parental choice and higher costs, without measurable improvements in outcomes.
My hope for 2023 is that every legislator in Madison will talk to somebody in their district who lost their small business or their job, and ask why.
Shouldn’t be hard to find them.
Between March of 2020 and March of 2021 — the last period of time for which I could find data — 17,364 Wisconsin establishments opened and 13,698 closed, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Almost all of those were small businesses.
Students in Milwaukee’s public high schools who want a better life and know that school is their only way up are being battered, assaulted and exposed to gunfire or other reckless conduct on a daily basis. The school board ignores that and listens to activists, who think cops are bullies.
On Dec. 14, the Badger Institute submitted the following comments to Gov. Tony Evers’ statewide listening session tour on the 2023-25 executive budget.