(The Center Square) – One of Wisconsin’s congressmen wants to change how states across the county pay for and manage their schools, and he wants to use Wisconsin as a national model.
Congressman Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin, on Tuesday released a plan titled “Wisconsin 2030:The Education Path To Prosperity Within The Decade.”
The plan suggests major changes in how parents choose their children’s schools, how taxpayers pay for their schools, how schools are managed, and how teachers are supported.
“We are failing Wisconsin’s children,” Gallagher wrote. “We are failing to prepare the next generation for hard work, the rigors of adulthood amid technological change, and the intellectual demands of American citizenship. We are wasting their enormous potential and, with it, Wisconsin’s potential to thrive in the 21st century.”
Gallagher is quick to say the Wisconsin schools are falling behind, and kids are not doing as well as even just 25 years ago.
“As recently as 1996, Wisconsin was an educational powerhouse, testing in the top five nationally. In the 25 years since, Wisconsin has dropped 11 spots. Nearly 60 percent of Wisconsin students cannot read or do math past a high-school-track level” Gallagher said. “As our middle-class students slump below the national average, our racial achievement gap makes national news. Our White fourth graders score about as well in math as our Black eighth graders do, and we have the nation’s second-lowest Black graduation rate.”
Gallagher is suggesting eight ideas to change how schools are paid for and operated.
- Bringing back phonics-based reading instruction.
- Get high-quality teachers into the profession, and help these teachers mentor the next generation of educators.
- Grow urban and rural choice by funding district and choice students equally.
- Make better investments in high-speed rural internet.
- Modernize school bureaucracy by using a Yelp-like school enrollment system to empower parents to seek out quality.
- Moving school board elections to the general Election Day to boost participation.
- Promote working-class college by encouraging “Guided Pathway” reforms at technical colleges. creating more flexible technical college programs and funding mechanisms.
- Allow 529-style accounts to cover apprenticeship expenses, not just college costs.
“To complete a comeback, Wisconsin and states like it must invest in their future blue-collar workforce. By making sure that all families have access to high-quality schools, states can generate broad abundance in all sectors—tech and trades, finance and farms,” Gallagher added.
Gallagher says by fixing the schools first, Wisconsin can fix its other challenges in short order. And he says Wisconsin can give other states a path forward as well.
“We are not going to wake up to Florida’s climate or Los Angeles’ entertainment hub. Wisconsin’s superpowers are our culture of humble, hard work and communities where we take care of one another. We do not need to be the coolest state in the country. We simply need to be the best state for those who want to work hard and raise a family,” Gallagher added. “We can get there if we rebuild the best educational system in the country. If we can lead the nation in education by 2030, all of our other problems become easier to solve. We can punch well above our weight by training and retaining the best workforce in the country.”