Wisconsin must restore respect for Wisconsin’s public schools and educators and listen to teachers and education support professionals, who have the best interests of students at heart, State Superintendent Tony Evers said Thursday in his annual State of Education Address.
“Our educators are on the front lines of these challenges,” he said “So when they speak up about bad education policy, deteriorating schools, or the massive teacher exodus we’re facing, they’re doing right by our kids. And we should listen. They’re reminding us that education – like democracy – doesn’t come for free. It must be nurtured, sustained, and invested in over time.”
Evers called for reinvesting in public schools, “so that every kid can thrive.”
“Together,” he said, “we can bring civility and collaboration back to public education and to public life.”
Evers said education remains – as it has always been – “the great equalizer” and the pathway to prosperity, as well as the key to a skilled workforce and a robust economy.
But, he said, Wisconsin’s priorities are out of whack.
“Today in Wisconsin we’re spending less on our public schools than we did eight years ago – putting us below the national average. We serve over 50,000 English learners – and that number is growing. We serve over 120,000 special needs students. Four in every 10 kids are economically disadvantaged.
“A decade of disinvestment hasn’t magically solved problems, increased student performance, or improved our competitive edge. Divisive solutions from Washington and Madison haven’t made things better. These policies are failing us. But the people of Wisconsin know there’s a better way.”
Evers noted that over the past few years, more than 1.1 million residents throughout the state rallied behind public education and voted to raise their own taxes to support their schools.
“Now is the time to adopt a transformational education budget that responds to this call,” he said. “A budget that provides educators what they deserve: the resources they need to meet the needs of our kids. A budget that increases opportunities, closes gaps, and allows for competitive compensation.
“We must continue raising our voices until they can no longer be ignored,” Evers concluded. “Together, we can restore respect for Wisconsin schools and educators. Together, we can reinvest in our schools so that every kid can thrive. Together, we can bring civility and collaboration back to public education and to public life.”