DPI’s Educational Strategies Are Major Improvement Over Governor’s State Budget Proposal
By Rep. Dave Considine
February 19, 2015
On Thursday, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) presented its “Promoting Excellence for All” plan to the Assembly Committee on Education. This proposal is a set of proactive strategies designed to close Wisconsin’s achievement gaps and raise achievement of our students of color. Promoting Excellence for All is the result of the efforts of a task force convened by State Superintendent Tony Evers as part of his Agenda 2017.
In its presentation to the Education Committee, DPI outlined several areas for growth that Wisconsin schools should be focused on, including strategies for effective instruction, community engagement, and improving school leadership. These positive, proactive strategies are in stark contrast with the short-sighted, troubling ideas that have dominated legislative policies on public education and now appear in Governor Walker’s 2015-2017 state budget.
Instead of cutting funding to our public schools by $150 per pupil, which adds up to more than $126 million across the state, DPI’s proposal suggests investing more time and resources in our schools to ensure their success. The Governor’s budget proposal would prioritize unaccountable private schools by lifting the cap on voucher enrollment without holding those schools to the same accountability standards as our public schools. Governor Walker says we should give parents choices, but doesn’t require all students receiving public money to take the same test. Parents cannot make an informed decision about the quality of their child’s education without having comparable measures. The proposed budget would also lower the quality of instruction our students receive by allowing anyone with a bachelor’s degree to get a teaching license. Wisconsin already has procedures in place to allow those same people to teach “temporarily”, or “provisionally”, while pursuing additional training in teaching methodology and becoming fully licensed teachers.
DPI’s proposal focuses on the ways we can invest in our public schools and help them grow and flourish, rather than give up on them in favor of unaccountable, for-profit institutions. As a proud former public school teacher and current member of the Assembly Education Committee, I believe the quality of our public education is key to the success of our state. In “Promoting Excellence for All”, DPI offers a set of common-sense strategies to help ensure our students’ success.
It is true that we are operating under a tight budget. This may be a result of past decisions such as not indexing our gas tax, placing strict levy limits, taking money from public schools for private institutions, or insisting that our citizens would rather have a $5 reduction in property taxes than fund their local public schools. But Governor Walker’s education proposals are not the right path to fixing our situation. When we use strategies like the ones outlined by DPI to proactively invest more of our time and resources into our schools, students, and teachers, we are investing in a better future for Wisconsin.