(The Center Square) – The latest suggestion for Wisconsin’s federal stimulus payday is to use some of the money to help kids make up for the year of school they may have lost.
The Institute for Government Reform (IGR) on Thursday suggested Gov. Evers use $1.5 billion for summer school and after-school classes to make sure Wisconsin students don’t fall further behind.
“As Wisconsin school districts closed their buildings in the past year – lagging far behind other states that placed a greater emphasis on staying open – failure rates have skyrocketed and tens of thousands of students simply did not show up for ‘virtual instruction’.” the Institute said in its plan.
“To deal with this crisis, Wisconsin’s state policymakers should use federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to give these ‘missing students’ the ability to take courses that will catch them up and prepare them for what’s next.”
The Institute recommends sending money to local schools for “supplementary” lessons. But the key is that parents would choose where they want their children to learn, and that schools would only get the money once students pass the class.
The money would go to public schools in Wisconsin, but could also go to charter schools or even colleges and universities that help students catch-up on what they’ve missed.
"We cannot leave these missing students behind, they need a path toward success,” C.J. Szafir, IGR president, told The Center Square.
The Institute says a recent survey of 60 school districts in Wisconsin concluded that 90% of the districts had higher failure rates than the previous year. Nearly one out of every three students at Milwaukee Public Schools, according to MPS, failed the fall semester. At Wausau Public Schools, around one out of every four middle school and high school students failed a course (a quadruple increase from the prior year).
Szafir pointed out that the $1.5 billion is specifically earmarked for education in the state, and is on top of the hundreds of millions of dollars that Wisconsin has already received.
“Ample federal funding is being sent to Wisconsin and the Evers administration should utilize these dollars to ensure our students who are failing ‘virtual’ schools are caught up and ready to learn when schools finally re-open,” Szafir added.