By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers fancies himself as the “Education Governor.” So, why have K-12 student proficiency numbers plummeted in his nearly three years in office?
As the MacIver Institute reports, the latest data on testing and student success show English Language Arts (ELA) proficiency statewide was 27.5 percent last year, down 5.4 points or a 16 percent reduction from 2019. Math proficiency is at 27 percent, down 7 points from 2019 or a 20.5 percent reduction.
These figures look at proficiency rates as a percentage of total Wisconsin students, not just those tested as teachers union pet Superintendent Jill Underly reported in her press release, according to MacIver.
“Shockingly, less than one-third of Wisconsin students are proficient in math or English Language Arts,” MacIver reports.
The story notes:
Each year, Wisconsin students in various grades take a series of standardized tests to assess their proficiency in a range of different subjects. Test results are a useful tool to track a student’s academic progress and gauge the overall effectiveness of Wisconsin’s K12 education system. The Forward Exam is given to students in grades three through eight and ten. The ACT Aspire test is given in grades nine and ten. The ACT writing test is given in grade eleven and the Dynamic Learning Maps is given to students with cognitive disabilities. This year, the tests were administered to students in the spring. The tests were not administered in 2020 because of COVID-19.
While the pandemic brought unique challenges to public and private school systems, the “lost year of education” occurred even as Wisconsin saw a massive infusion of federal tax dollars — $2.6 billion. The unprecedented aid was meant to make sure public schools had the resources and tools to overcome the impacts of the pandemic.
The latest woeful proficiency numbers show what conservative lawmakers have been saying for a long time: It’s not about dumping more money on the problem. These are failing grades a long time in the making, and they have much to do with the failings of the “Education Governor.” Before winning election in 2018, the Democrat ruled the state Department of Public Instruction for a decade. He was a tool for the state’s teachers unions. So was his hand-picked successor, Carolyn Stanford Taylor. Underly is just as beholden to the unions and to the status quo of failed policies.
More so, despite billions of dollars at his disposal, Evers and DPI failed to come up with plans that would have extended the school year or added instructional time to the school day, MacIver reports.
“Undely has spent most of her time talking about the need to implement the racist Critical Race Theory in our schools and pushing mediocrity on our children rather than using the bully pulpit to raise awareness about this critical problem,” MacIver asserts.
Republicans took aim at the state’s education failures on Evers’ watch.
“When our students needed support, Tony Evers kept schools closed,” said Republican Party of Wisconsin Communications Director Anna Kelly. “Wisconsin families need a governor who will put kids — not teachers union bosses — first.”
Read more at the MacIver Institute.