K-12 Funding in Spotlight as Bitter Rivals Do Battle for Wis. Governor’s Seat

K-12 Funding in Spotlight as Bitter Rivals Do Battle for Wis. Governor’s Seat

Last fall, Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker used Southern Door High School’s newly installed 3D printing lab in this small town near Green Bay as a backdrop to propose a $639 million increase in public school funding.

“We know that ensuring our students’ success, both in and outside the classroom, is critical to the state’s continued economic success,” said Walker, now in a fierce campaign for a third term against long-time state schools chief Tony Evers.

The Southern Door County schools, administrators say, got almost none of that money. In fact, the 1,029-student district—rural, losing students, and hampered by tax revenue caps put in place more than 20 years ago—had to make severe budget cuts this year and pull an extra $200,000 out of its savings account. If a referendum on the county ballot this fall allowing the district to exceed its revenue cap fails to pass, there will likely be more cuts next fiscal year.

The intricacies of Wisconsin’s school spending and whether districts like Southern Door need more or less money from the state has come to dominate the gubernatorial contest between Walker and Evers, both of whom have made their education records a high-profile piece of their pitch to Wisconsin voters in the November election.

Walker says that by leading the charge to turn Wisconsin into a right-to-work state with the passage of legislation in 2011 that stripped the bargaining rights of public employee unions including teachers, he’s saved the state more than $3.5 billion, while keeping property taxes low and expanding school choice. He has claimed his most recent budget provided districts with $200 more per student, though many dispute that fact.

Under Walker between 2011 and 2013, the state cut education funding by some $800 million, hitting some districts harder than others. Spending has rebounded since then, but Walker’s critics say it hasn’t been enough to keep up with inflation.

Evers says Walker’s budget cuts over the years crippled school districts’ ability to provide students with basic resources, causing massive layoffs and a teacher shortage across the state. He has proposed to boost spending by more than $1.7 billion…

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Mayor Barrett and Interim Superintendent Dr. Keith Posey Kick Off FAFSA Application

Mayor Barrett and Interim Superintendent Dr. Keith Posey Kick Off FAFSA Application

Concordia student, Dominick Snow Pierce, says filing the FAFSA helped him follow his dreams. (Photo by Ana Martinez-Ortiz)

As surprising as it may seem, applying to universities and trade schools may be the easiest step when it comes to continuing education. The second step, often viewed as the most daunting one, is filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid better known as FAFSA.

Over the years, FAFSA has gained a bad rep, although it’s working hard to change that. Recently, the FAFSA application process, which once began in April, changed to October. In other words, people can begin submitting their FAFSA applications as early as Oct. 1.

“FAFSA is the tool that opens the door to education,” said Mayor Tom Barrett.

According to Interim Milwaukee Public School Superintendent, Dr. Keith Posey, in 2016 the FAFSA completion rate in MPS hit 49.9 percent. This year’s goal is 80 percent. To help achieve this goal, all the high schools will be participating in the Wisconsin Goes to College Campaign, Posey said.

Additionally, to encourage more students to apply to college and FAFSA, 20 new college career centers were established in MPS high schools. M3, which consists of UW-Milwaukee, MATC and MPS, are continuing their joint efforts to ensure that every student continues their education.

Dr. Keith Posey, interim superintendent, says the college and FAFSA application processes are community efforts. (Photo by Ana Martinez-Ortiz)

Posey said FAFSA is a community effort. It’s not just the schools and the students, he said.
“[The students are] going to need your commitment and your support,” Posey said to parents.

Shannon Snow, the mother of Dominick Snow Pierce who graduated from MacDowell and now attends Concordia University, said the College Career Program helped Dominic with his applications.

As a mother, Snow said she always emphasized to her children that school was the top priority. MacDowell’s college advisors matched her commitment by following through with Dominick and making sure he filled out not only his college application, but FAFSA too. He’s eternally grateful his support system pushed him to do both, said Dominick.

“FAFSA is the best thing in life,” he said.

As a parent himself, Barrett said he knows how intimidating the FAFSA application can be. The name alone sounds scary he said. The first questions many people have is ‘What is FAFSA?’ followed by ‘How do I do FAFSA?’. Once the application process begins, it quickly becomes understandable, he said.

“We filled out the FAFSA,” he said. “[It was] one of the smartest economic decisions of my life.”

FAFSA helps the students and their parents establish a plan for their college years. Barrett called it a blueprint of do-ability that can help ease the discomfort of financial uncertainty. He said, as mayor, he speaks on behalf of the city. Milwaukee needs more kids to go to college, he said.

The job vacancies are there, but the applicants may not have the skills to even apply for the jobs, he said. Companies may decide to export the jobs if they can’t find employees in Milwaukee. This would be a huge blow to the city’s economic status. Wealth can be built in these neighborhoods, he said, and it can be built through education.

“The plus side is so huge, I think it’s worth it,” Barrett said.

Andrea Atkins, a single mother of seven MPS students, testified to how helpful FAFSA is. Of her children, four have attended college, so far, and three of them have graduated. Parents can support their child’s dream of attending college with FAFSA, she said.

“Our children are the future and we must invest in their education and success,” she said.

OPINION: Our Children Are at Risk

OPINION: Our Children Are at Risk

By Kay Coles James

I’m sure President Obama’s heart was in the right place.

A few years ago, his Department of Education, in conjunction with the Department of Justice, studied school discipline data and came to a troubling conclusion: African American students in the 2011-12 school year had been suspended or expelled at a rate three times higher than White students.

This news sent shock waves throughout the community and government. There were already concerns of a “school-to-prison pipeline” that funneled disadvantaged children to jail. Now, there was renewed agreement that things had to change.

And so, in 2014, the Departments of Education and Justice put public schools on notice. If they suspended or expelled students of any racial group more than any other, they could face a federal investigation. In place of discipline to punish bad behavior, they were urged to use positive reinforcement instead.

As the grandmother of five school-age kids, I watched this closely. And as one of the Black students who integrated an all-White Richmond, Va., school in 1961, I was hopeful.

I hoped this policy would lead to safer schools. I prayed it would help students get a better education. And I felt confident it would open the door to a brighter future for our kids.

But like so many other parents and grandparents, I was wrong.

The federal government’s warning had an immediate impact. Schools across America quickly changed their discipline policies and reduced their suspension and expulsion rates. In doing so, they avoided the investigation threatened by the President. But at the same time, they put our children at risk.

Today, kids who bully and assault their classmates too often do so without fear of punishment. They know teachers have lost control. And they realize they can get away with behavior that never used to be tolerated.

As a result, when this summer is over, many students will once again face the fear of going back to school. That’s a tragedy! Schools should be joyous places where learning takes place. That’s what my classmates and I fought for in 1961. And it’s what should be the reality today.

Instead, danger lurks behind schoolhouse doors.

Joevon Smith is a heartbreaking example. A 17-year-old student with special needs who attended Ballou High School in Washington, D.C., Joeven was beaten up in his classroom and sprayed with a chemical. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, but never recovered. A few weeks after his brutal assault, Joevon died.

According to media reports, Joevon’s assailants wanted to steal his cell phone. That may be so. But because they were repeat offenders, loosened school discipline policies are also at fault.

That’s the case up the road in Baltimore, too. There, Jared Haga, age 10, and his 12-year-old sister Tamar have been bullied and threatened with violence. Tamar has even been sexually harassed and assaulted. In school!

As chronicled by “The Daily Signal,” Jared and Tamar’s mother tried to get this to stop. But when she complained to the principal, she was told nothing would–or could–be done.

Joevon, Jared, and Tamar aren’t alone. According to numerous reports, public schools are now less orderly and more dangerous. As Walter E. Williams has observed, the policy President Obama put into place has allowed “miscreants and thugs to sabotage the education process.”

Teachers apparently agree. In anonymous surveys, they describe how badly school safety has deteriorated. As one stated, “We have fights here almost every day. The kids walk around and say, ‘We can’t get suspended–we don’t care what you say.’”

That sentiment was echoed by another teacher: “Students are yelling, cursing, hitting and screaming at teachers and nothing is being done but teachers are being told to teach and ignore the behaviors. These students know there is nothing a teacher can do.”

This is crazy.

Every child deserves to get the tools they need to make their dreams come true. But if they are too scared to focus, they won’t get them. Many will drop out, limiting their chance to get a job, raise a family, and pursue their life goals.

All because directives from Washington have made school districts fear they’ll be investigated for keeping their classrooms safe.

We can’t bring Joevon back, and Jared and Tamar may never forget the trauma they’ve experienced. But we can take action to fix the mistake that has been made.

For starters, the Education and Justice Departments’ school discipline policy should be rescinded. And if any threats remain, every family should be empowered with school choice, so they can choose safer learning options for their children.

I know President Obama meant well, but his administration’s action was wrong. So, it’s now time to make things right.

Our children should be at risk no more.

This article first appeared in The Milwaukee Courier.

Racial Divides Found in Student Loan Defaults

Racial Divides Found in Student Loan Defaults

By Charlene Crowell

With 44 million consumers owing student debt that now reaches $1.5 trillion and still climbing, a lot of people want to better understand how and why this unsustainable debt trajectory can be better managed. For Black consumers who typically have less family wealth than other races and ethnicities, borrowing is more frequent, and as a result, often leads to five figure debts for undergraduate programs and well beyond $100,000 for graduate or professional degrees.

Besides deep debt incurred to gain a college education, another sphere of concern presents yet another financial hurdle: student loan defaults.

New research by Judith Scott-Clayton of the Brookings Institution, focuses on explaining these defaults and what happens once they occur. Her research shows that a large racial gap exists in default rates between Black student loan borrowers and their White counterparts. This gap can only be partially explained by controlling for multiple socio-economic and educational attainment factors.

After accounting for variations in family wealth and income, differences in degree attainment, college grade point average and even post-college income and employment, a stubborn and statistically significant 11 percentage point gap remains between Black and White student loan borrowers. Before adjusting for these factors, the gap is 28 percent, with Black borrowers defaulting at a rate of more than double that of Whites—49 percent compared to 21 percent over 12 years.

The research also finds a strong disadvantage to attending for-profit colleges, in which Black students disproportionately enroll. More than a decade after leaving school, and accounting for the same background and attainment factors listed above, loan defaults of for-profit college borrowers exceed those of two–year public sector peers by 11 percent.

The author points to the need to understand what influences the “stark” remaining divide.

“The better we can understand what drives these patterns,” wrote Scott-Clayton, “the better policymakers can target their efforts to improve student loan outcomes.”

Among these influences are the widening racial wealth gap. As Black student debt is typically heavier and often takes longer to repay, the ability to build wealth becomes a heightened challenge. Years that might have been opportunities to become homeowners or begin other investments can have lengthy deferrals, due to large student loan debts.

Similarly, a new report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that focused largely on student loan repayment reached a similar conclusion. Authored by Thomas Conkling, the new CFPB research examining borrowers who were unable to fully repay their student loans early, “suggests that their required monthly student loan payments constrained their ability to pay down other debts.” CFPB also found that the typical student loan repayment lasts a full decade with equal monthly payments.

Further, borrowers repaying on schedule are not more likely to become first-time homeowners.

A portion of the Brookings report provides useful information that could help those at risk or in default.

Loan “default is a status, not a permanent characteristic.” Four ways to get out of default are cited: rehabilitation, consolidation, paying in full, or have a loan discharged.

For my money, paying in full is seldom a practical option unless someone’s lottery numbers hit a jackpot. But the other three options offered could begin to chart a path in important ways.

Rehabilitation of student loan defaults can only be used one time. It also requires, according to Brookings, successfully making nine payments over 10 months.

A second option, consolidating defaulted loans, can end default more quickly and is used by more than half of Blacks who have defaulted.

In recent years, loan discharge has been frequently pursued, especially by former students of now-defunct for-profit institutions. Others choosing public service careers may be eligible for loan forgiveness depending upon the type of loan, servicer assistance and employment.

Any loan default will worsen credit scores and will be a part of a consumer’s credit record for up to seven years. During this time, the cost of credit for other goods and services will be higher. It will also cost many job applicants to lose out on employment opportunities. For several years, credit score screening has become a part of the job application process for many employers.

“The numbers show that our current system is not working, and that higher education is not providing the pathway to financial stability that it once accomplished,” Policy Counsel and Special Assistant to the President of the Center for Responsible Lending, Ashley Harrington said. “We need federal and state policymakers to take concrete steps to effectively address this crisis, such as better regulation of for-profit colleges.

“As for loan servicers, it is time to hold them accountable for their errors,” continued Harrington.

“Standardizing income-based repayment plans, and when appropriate, refinancing of student loans, should be offered as alternative options before allowing borrowers to default.”

Charlene Crowell is the Communications Deputy Director with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.

COMMENTARY: Education Chief DeVos: Failing to Make the Grade

COMMENTARY: Education Chief DeVos: Failing to Make the Grade

State Representative Leon D. Young


By State Representative, Leon D. Young

Before she was even sworn in as Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos emerged as one of the most controversial members of the Trump Administration. Her confirmation required a historic tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence after every Senate Democrat and two Senate Republicans voted against her. In the months since, like many others in the Trump Administration, DeVos has set about rolling back Obama-era policies, from Title IX guidance on campus sexual assault to regulations on for-profit colleges. She quickly found support from conservatives who had backed her previous work as a school choice advocate, but she struggled to build broad national support for her initiatives. DeVos, a prominent Republican donor, faced criticism from Democrats, teachers’ unions and civil rights advocates, many of whom noted that she did not have a background as an educator.

It would be an understatement to suggest that DeVos’ first year alone has sparked a number of controversies, some of which include:

  • In September (2017), DeVos rolled back controversial Obama-era guidance on how universities should handle sexual assault complaints on campus. The 2011 guidelines had instructed universities to use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard when adjudicating sexual assault complaints instead of the “clear and convincing evidence” standard, which requires a higher burden of proof and was used by some schools at the time.
  • DeVos stoked further controversy when she held meetings on campus sexual assault in July (2017), speaking with victims of sexual assault as well as students who say they’ve been falsely accused. Coupled with the acting head of the department’s Office for Civil Rights assertion that 90% of sexual assault complaints “fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk.’
  • Under her guidance, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice rescinded guidelines that allowed transgender students to use the bathrooms aligned with their gender identity.
  • In June (2017), an internal memo indicated that the department was scaling back investigations into civil rights violations at public schools and universities. In the two months that followed, the department also closed or dismissed more civil rights complaints than previous administrations had in similar periods of time.
  • DeVos has also led efforts that blocked the Obama Administration’s protections for students attending for-profit colleges. The regulations would have provided debt forgiveness to students defrauded by for-profit colleges and would have cut off funding to for-profit colleges that burdened students with loans while failing to prepare them for gainful employment.

Let’s fast-forward to now. DeVos is once again making waves and headlines as she ponders whether to allow grants from the academic support fund to be used for a highly controversial purpose: guns. The $1 billion Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants is intended for the country’s poorest schools and school districts to use the money toward three goals: providing well-rounded education, improving school conditions for learning and improving the use of technology for digital literacy.

Given the fact that the Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law in 2015, is silent on weapons purchases, that omission would allow Ms. DeVos to use her discretion to approve or deny any state or district plans to use the enrichment grants under the measure for firearms and firearms training.

In addition, such a move would reverse a longstanding position taken by the federal government that it should not pay to outfit schools with weaponry. It would also undermine efforts by Congress to restrict the use of federal funding on guns.

DeVos is clearly an anomaly, who is ill prepared for the job. She is the first education secretary in the department’s 35-year history to not have been a public-school parent or student. DeVos attended private institutions for both grade school and college, and her four children were educated at private schools, too.

In my view, Betsy DeVos is unqualified, clearly unfit, and obviously too conflicted to serve as the U.S. Education Secretary and who, for all intents and purposes—appears bent on taking down the very institution she’s entrusted with.

This article originally appeared in The Milwaukee Courier.

School Nurses Vital to Student Health, In and Out of School

School Nurses Vital to Student Health, In and Out of School

School nurses are an essential component to the health and wellbeing of students, particularly those with acute and chronic health conditions.

“For many of these students, without nursing services, attendance would decrease or students would be unable to attend school,” says Louise Wilson, health services supervisor and a school nurse in the Beaver Dam Unified School District in Wisconsin.

Wilson recalls sitting at her desk recently when she received a call from a concerned mother questioning whether her four-year-old son, diagnosed with diabetes, would be cared for during the school day. The child had Type I Diabetes, a chronic health condition that requires constant monitoring and a level of medical knowledge most educators and school administrators do not possess.

“I knew this mother was overwhelmed,” says Wilson, a nurse for 37 years, the last 25 working at schools. “She herself was trying to learn how to manage and safeguard her child.”

In recent years, school nurses have transcended treating the traditional bumps, bruises, and scrapes, to become a central force in helping parents gain access to healthcare for their children.

For example, in some states, school nurses work in conjunction with private healthcare providers and parents to help manage students with chronic diabetes, asthma and other conditions. At many schools, nurses screen students for hearing and vision problems that could create a barrier to learning.

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Black Arts Fest MKE Welcomes the UW-Milwaukee Educational Experience

Black Arts Fest MKE Welcomes the UW-Milwaukee Educational Experience

Black Arts Fest MKE and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) are pleased to announce a partnership that will provide educational exposure for festival attendees. Black Arts Fest MKE will be held on Saturday, August 4 and is open from noon until midnight. The festival is at Henry Maier Festival Park (Summerfest grounds).

Black Arts Fest MKE recognizes the importance and benefits of higher education. As the inaugural educational sponsor, the UWM Educational Experience tent will feature opportunities to engage with several departments, schools and colleges, as well as academic advisors that will be ready to interact with and assist festival goers with their higher education needs.

The tent will be located just south of the mid gate entrance. It will feature opportunities for attendees to engage with the University’s Trio and Pre-College programs, the Office of Admissions, the Office of Financial Aid and other departments that will be onsite to help the community navigate campus life.

UWM’s Trio and Pre-College Programs is home to more than eight different programs specifically designed to meet the needs of pre-college young people, from middle school through high school. These award-winning programs offer opportunities for year-round and summer programming exposure to higher educational and career-planning activities.

The UWM Office of Admissions will be present to work with the public to design customized academic experiences for prospective students that includes information regarding admissions, college visits, financial support and activities that promote student support. Representatives from several academic areas such as the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, the College of Nursing, and the School of Information Sciences will also be present.

“The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is thrilled and honored to be the Educational Sponsor for the inaugural Black Arts Fest MKE,” said University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Vice Chancellor for Global Inclusion and Engagement, Dr. Joan Prince. “Our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and academic excellence sparks our desire to have the community share in the Educational Experience that will be encountered when they visit our exhibit area.”

“Education is vital for individual growth and that of the community,” said Black Arts Fest MKE Executive Director Patrice Harris. “UWM is one of the most inclusive and diverse colleges in Wisconsin and we are happy to have them complement the cultural experience of the festival with the UW-Milwaukee Educational Experience.”

UWM has always believed that education empowers and inspires future generations to achieve positive personal and social growth.

Milwaukee Education Partnership Celebrates New Racine and Milwaukee Public School Superintendents

Milwaukee Education Partnership Celebrates New Racine and Milwaukee Public School Superintendents

By Karen Stokes

July 28, 2018

Dr. Eric Gallien, Superintendent of Racine Unified Schools. Gallien’s new position began July 1, 2018. (Photo by Karen Stokes)

[/media-credit] Dr. Eric Gallien, Superintendent of Racine Unified Schools. Gallien’s new position began July 1, 2018.

The Milwaukee Education Partnership (MEP) held a special reception to welcome the new Superintendents for Racine Unified School and Milwaukee Public School Districts.

Gerard Randall, Executive Director of the Milwaukee Education Partnership welcomed the two new superintendents and members of the MEP, Dr. Eric N. Gallien, Racine Unified School District, and Dr Keith P. Posley, Milwaukee Public Schools.

The reception was held at the Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM) that for years has been a creative environment that delivers curriculum and confidence using out-of-classroom spaces.
MPM President/CEO Dennis Kois, welcomed educators from neighboring Wisconsin school districts in attendance.

Dr Keith Posley, interim Superintendent to Milwaukee Public Schools appointed May 21, 2018 (Photo courtesy Milwaukee Public Schools)

[/media-credit] Dr Keith Posley, interim Superintendent to Milwaukee Public Schools appointed May 21, 2018

“The museum’s primary purpose of collecting, preserving, protecting, exhibiting, researching and formulating objects in our collection is to educate and that purpose is through school visits that we host,” said Kois. “This museum brings in 100,000 children. It’s the largest museum in the state and one of the oldest in the U.S.”

The Racine Unified School Board voted 8-1 to make Deputy Superintendent Dr. Eric N. Gallien the next superintendent of the Racine Unified School District. Gallien’s new leadership position began this month.

“It’s really humbling for me today, I grew up not even a mile from here. I would ask my mom if we could go to the museum and she would say, you know we don’t have money for that,” said Gallien. “Now I’m being celebrated in the same museum that I couldn’t afford to go to years ago.”

Gerard Randall Executive Director of Milwaukee Education Partnership (Photo by Karen Stokes)

[/media-credit] Gerard Randall Executive Director of Milwaukee Education Partnership

Gallien said his mother raised him, his brother and sister in a way that set high expectations for them and gave them enough rope to take risks.

“My leadership is strictly autobiographical. Unpacking the narrative of what can and cannot be done with children who come from humble beginnings. Some people call it poverty. Whatever you want to call it they have potential and when you see humanity in those children you can change the trajectory for all kids in this area,” said Gallien.

Dr. Keith P. Posley was appointed Interim Superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools effective May 21, 2018, after Superintendent Darienne Driver departed MPS to become CEO of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan. Posley, a former teacher, principal and administrator has served for 29 years in a variety of positions for the Milwaukee Public School District.

Dennis Kois, President/CEO, Milwaukee Public Museum (Photo by Karen Stokes)

[/media-credit] Dennis Kois, President/CEO, Milwaukee Public Museum

“I’m not going anywhere, I’m here to stay,” said Posley. “As we commit ourselves to the success of every child, I will be focusing on Five Priorities for Success:

1)Student achievement and accountability
2) Develop the staff
3) Fiscal responsibility and transparency
4) Building district and school culture, working together as one unit
5) Clear, concise communication”

Posley thanked his wife, mother, staff, teachers, administrators, superintendents and representatives from universities. He also stressed the importance of working together.

“It’s truly going to take a village to make sure our children are going in the right direction,” said Posley. “We’re going to make it work, we’re going to make sure we are moving in the right direction and we’re going to show results. We’re going to make it happen in Milwaukee Public Schools,” Posley said.
Mark Sain, MPS, District 1 President who worked with both Gallien and Posley, recognized the educators from Franklin, Brown Deer, Racine, Milwaukee and West Bend school districts attended the event.

“When we talk about education, we talk about that village,” Sain said. “We have two brothers that are going to need the village to help them to propel what we need to be doing for the young people in our communities and it’s not just a Milwaukee thing, it’s not just a Racine thing but it’s what’s happening in Franklin, it’s what’s happening in West Bend. When it comes to education we really need to put our arms around our young people.”

Randall said since 1999, the MEP is an organization that brings together senior educators from around the city, business leaders as well as those who were involved in the nonprofit workforce development world that came together to bring young people to grade level academically, especially in reading, writing and science to get them into a 2 year or 4 year college and to ensure good teachers were in those classrooms with those students.

Parents’ Day: Helping Parents Work, So Children Can Succeed

Parents’ Day: Helping Parents Work, So Children Can Succeed

Parents’ Day

This past Mother’s Day about $1.9 billion dollars’ worth of flowers and $2.2 billion dollars in ties and other clothing items were spent to purchase gifts on Father’s Day. So, why is it that Parents’ Day, held on the fourth Sunday in July, usually passes without anyone noticing?

Secretary Eloise Anderson

Secretary Eloise Anderson

While Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are wonderful tributes to the individual parent, it is Parents’ Day that should be more meaningful because it recognizes that kids do better when both parents are active and engaged in their lives.

Parents’ Day is also an opportunity for us to evaluate what we are doing to uplift and help parents serve as positive role models. At the Department of Children and Families (DCF) is it our job to make sure that parents who are struggling to find a job or stay employed get the support they need to flourish in the workforce and set a good example for their children. In my opinion there are few better ways for parents to be good role models than by showing their children that through hard work, they can achieve almost anything.

One of the greatest barriers to steady employment for low-income couples and single parents is the ability to find affordable child care. The cost of care is an issue for many families, but for low-income parents it can be especially burdensome. Recently, Governor Walker announced significant targeted rate increases to the Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy to take effect on October 1, 2018 with an additional general rate increase implemented in January, 2019. These rate increases continue Governor Walker’s significant investments in early childhood education following his lifting of the child care rate freeze imposed in 2006, and his reform to end the “benefit cliff” in child care assistance, so that parents receiving assistance are always better off taking a raise or accepting a promotion.

Helping low-income parents afford child care is just one way Wisconsin is ensuring that every parent who wants to work has a support system that allows them to enter, stay, and advance in the workforce.

While their probably won’t be many gifts exchanged on Sunday, if we all take a moment to think about what we are doing support parents in our community and commit to giving them a helping hand, this Parents’ Day will be more impactful than any bouquet of flowers or even the most expensive neck tie.

WISCONSIN: Over 100 MPS School Placed in Academic Excellence

WISCONSIN: Over 100 MPS School Placed in Academic Excellence

By Nyesha Stone

The Milwaukee Public School system may not have the best reputation, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t producing quality students. Last week, MPS announced that 108 MPS schools were awarded platinum, gold, silver or bronze for academic excellence and positive behavior by Wisconsin Rtl Center.

A student at Academy of Accelerated Learning spending his classroom time reading. Picture provided by MPS

A student at Academy of Accelerated Learning spending his classroom time reading.

Wisconsin Rtl Center is an organization that helps schools put in place a research-based multi-tiered system of support, according to a press release.

According to Wisconsin Rtl Center’s website, “a fully-implemented system is equitable, and provides increasing levels of student supports for all content areas.” There are three categories to place in: mathematics, reading and behavior.

To place bronze in one of the categories, the school has to fully-implement the Rtl system in that area at a universal level for at least one year, and at least two years for silver. To place gold, the school must meet the requirements for bronze for at least two years in two of the categories. And, to place platinum, the school must meet the requirements for gold in all three categories for at least three years.

Out of the 108 schools, only one placed platinum: Academy of Accelerated Learning.

“We’re very system driven,” said principal of Academy of Accelerated Learning, Eric Rian.

Rian said their success didn’t happen overnight. Their system of learning was implemented around seven years ago.

According to Rian, the school provides its teachers with professional teaching development training.

Plus, the staff understand their students in a way that helps the teachers teach better which in turn helps the students learn more.

Rian was the first one to learn about the great news, and before announcing it to the school, he met with his staff the night before to tell them to their face. The next day, during school he announced to the students that they won platinum.

“It’s work over time,” said K5 teacher April Gagliano. “Every year you have to add another levelto become successful.”

Third-grader Samiya and second-grader David were ecstatic about the news because of their love for the school, and their teachers.

Samiya, David and their classmates were given an assignment to learn more about themselves, which meant talking to their relatives. Through this experience, both Samiya and David found out interesting facts about their family, and themselves.

“My experience is really great here,” said Samiya. “It [the school] gives you a lot of opportunities [to learn].

“There’s so much [many] ways to learn,” said David.

Rian said he’s not big on celebrating but he did get a great feeling inside when he got the news.

“We know what we do, but it’s nice to know someone else knows,” said Rian.

For a complete list of the winning schools visit mpsmke.com/news