October 1, 2014

Superintendent Tony Evers unveils plan for addressing Wisconsin’s achievement gap

State Superintendent Tony Evers has unveiled plans for addressing the state’s achievement gap. The gap between white and black students here is the widest in the nation, and Evers has released recommendations from a task force. Evers said “cultural competency” is critical if parents are going to be supportive

“Not only about how culturally competent we need to be in our schools, but culturally competent so that we respect and honor cultures other than our own, and respect to the families that these kids are coming from,” Evers said. “We need to reach out, we can’t just assume that support is there.”

In his State of Education address, Evers said adequate funding continues to be a challenge for K-12 education in Wisconsin. “I’d say we pretty much aren’t meeting expectations there,” he said. Evers said the state “can’t afford to or three different public school systems,” with tax money being siphoned off to choice schools.

Many Wisconsin student ID cards will not work for voting

File photo

File photo

Wisconsin’s Voter ID law does allow the use of qualifying student identification cards to obtain a ballot at the polls. However, very few campuses in the state are currently using card designs that comply with the requirements of the law.

According to the state Government Accountability Board, a valid student ID for voting must include the student’s name, signature, and photo. It must also feature an issuing and expiration date, which cannot be more than two years after the ID was issued, and students must present documentation at the polls proving they are currently enrolled.

GAB director Kevin Kennedy says student IDs “continue to be a challenge,” although he notes that many students already have other types of ID that are valid for voting, such as a Wisconsin-issued driver’s license or a passport. A state issued ID can still be used at the polls, even if the student’s address is not current. If they are registering to vote on Election Day, they will need to have other documentation proving their residency though, such as a lease or housing contract.

The University of Wisconsin System has been working to make sure students have what they need to vote in November. They System has put up a website outlining voting information for multiple campuses. The UW-Madison has also announced that it will begin issuing free ID cards to students who request them, which can be specifically used for voting.

Kennedy says the key is for students to know in advance what they are going to need at the polls. He says “just like you give a lot of thought to who you’re going to vote for, give a lot of thought to what it takes to get a ballot.”

Lawrence University gets record $25 million gift

(Photo: Lawrence University)

(Photo: Lawrence University)

A $25 million donation to Lawrence University will provide scholarships to future students. President Mark Burstein says it’s the largest gift in university history, and it’s from an anonymous donor.

Burstein says the money will allow 45 to 50 students to receive some financial help every year, based on their needs. He says the university hopes to match the gift, by raising another $25 million over the next five years, for scholarships. The money will be placed in an endowment.

The previous record donation to Lawrence was $16 million. That money went to the Warch Campus Center project, in 2006.


Cross touts UW System to a nationwide audience

UW System President Raymond Cross

UW System President Raymond Cross

University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross touches on policy issues, economic impact, tuition cost, and the number of Nobel Prizes connected to the university (18).

Despite the cost, Cross says, “of course” a college education is worth it. “College graduates earn more — considerably more — than their none college counterparts. In addition to that the unemployment rate for college graduates is roughly half of what it is for none-college graduates. There’s a definite distinguishing characteristic economically.”

Though, Cross says, its worth should not be measured solely by its economic value. He says, “It’s important to understand what it means to have an educated citizenry.” He says earnings are important, as well as economic impact on the family and state. Cross says he’s working to connect the UW system to the needs of corporations in Wisconsin. “I think it’s also important in the state of Wisconsin where we have about 150,000 to 170,000 vacant job positions right now, it’s important for the university to help develop high-impact talent to address some of those needs.”

Cross’s conversation was part of a series of interviews with university officials across the nation during a C-SPAN Bus Big Ten Tour of the universities of the Big Ten Conference.

Wisconsin school report cards released

File photo

File photo

All but about two percent of Wisconsin’s 424 public school districts met or exceeded the state’s achievement expectations during the last school year. Annual report cards released by the state Department of Public Instruction on Tuesday also show that 88 percent of individual schools met or surpassed their expectations.

It’s the third year the Department of Public Instruction has issued report cards for each building, and the second year for districts as a whole. Schools are evaluated by their math and reading scores in statewide tests, student growth, getting students ready for college and careers, and reducing racial and ethnic achievement gaps.

In a statement, DPI Superintendent Tony Evers said “Most of our public schools and school districts are providing a solid education to our children, but we don’t want to rest on our laurels. These report cards are a good communication device to focus discussion among parents, schools, and communities on how our schools and school districts are doing and how they can continue to improve.”

Top ratings in the state went to nine districts and 116 schools. The Milwaukee School District was the only one that failed to meet the state’s expectations. Evers said the report cards are not meant to punish low-performing schools, but to help them improve and learn from the best practices of others.