Post-Crescent, February 1, 2019, by Jen Zettel Vandenhouten
During his first State of the State speech last week, Gov. Tony Evers announced several education priorities he’d like to address in the next state budget.
They include $600 million more for special education, restoring two-thirds funding to Wisconsin’s K-12 schools, closing the achievement gaps for low-income students and students of color, expanding early childhood and summer school grant programs and increasing mental health funding.
To make any of these priorities a reality, Evers and his fellow Democrats will need to work with Republicans, who control both houses of the Legislature.
With opinionated leaders on all sides of a divided government, fireworks are likely.
But The Ideas Lab found that research supports many of the initiatives Evers hopes to pursue.
Here’s a breakdown:
Wisconsin has some of the largest black-white achievement gaps in the nation, and it’s a problem officials and the public have known about for years.
To make an impact, state and school district officials need to approach achievement gaps from multiple directions, said Madeline Hafner, executive director of the Minority Student Achievement Network and an associate scientist at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.Your stories live here.Fuel your hometown passion and plug into the stories that define it.Create Account
The Minority Student Achievement Network works with 27 school districts around the nation, including four in Wisconsin. MSAN helps school officials evaluate and implement programs aimed at reducing achievement gaps.
Research has shown that student-teacher relationships are particularly important to students’ academic success. Schools should prioritize training educators in culturally responsive practices so they can engage their students and challenge them, Hafner said.
Having a diverse teaching staff has also been shown to affect achievement.
Schools can improve referrals in Advanced Placement and honors courses, and on the flip side, scrutinize special education referrals. Research has found that students of color are underrepresented in honors classes and over-represented in special education programs.
Discipline practices should be evaluated. Research shows that students of color are more likely to receive out-of-school suspensions or expulsions compared with their white peers.