Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Assembly Bill 1 Public Hearing at the State Capitol, Madison, Wisconsin January 14, 2015

Rep. Thiesfeldt, Rep. Kitchens, and legislative members of the Education Committee,

My name is Todd Alan Price. I’m Director of Policy Studies at National Louis University, speaking for myself. If we really want to be responsible to the 860,000 public school children we would be crafting solid policy initiatives that improve student engagement. If we wanted improved accountability let’s provide the funds/resources available to hire more educators, provide bonafide career paths with better compensation (like teacher leader programs, part of the RESPECT initiative from the federal government), and support the persons on the frontlines who do the teaching, collect the data and retool the curriculum and instruction as needed to be able to make an impact on the student outcomes.

Equally important from a scientific measure, rather than a faith-based one, we should use diagnostic assessments to identify the point at which a child is struggling; we should use formative assessments, which are ongoing and immediately useful to the teacher to move the child incredibly forward.

But the resources are few and far between. I know my colleagues would be very supportive of your committee examining what does it specifically cost to support each and every child in the state of Wisconsin to be fully ready to be successful, to have the tools in place to be able to learn?  If we as a state did that, then we could have an honest and robust conversation around choice in education, which would take at its starting point, equal opportunity.

If this committee wanted to help children in underperforming schools, you could start by working to improve our neighborhood public schools so every child has a good public school to attend, no matter where they live or what their family circumstances are. I agree parents are the first teacher and I am one too. My children go to two great Kenosha neighborhood public schools, Grewenow and Roosevelt Elementary respectively. They have great teachers, and dedicated principals, support staff, and they are focused on moving the curriculum forward toward best practices and improved student outcomes, I know this as a parent who attends the teacher-parent meetings and support the community engagement events.

A.B. 1 doesn't help these schools much, just seems to place more “accountability” on top of all of the other accountability mechanisms that teachers and principals and school board members are laboring under. WE should support promising initiatives such as co-teaching and universal design for learning, and we could be supporting school districts to improve their practice by examining new promising pedagogies, including blended learning. Instead we are seemingly placing schools with AB 1 under increasing audit measures.

Since we know that schools that do well on the Report Cards are in communities with engaged parents, well-trained and experienced teachers, a vibrant economy, and schools that have resources to provide every child with the opportunity for a great education - why aren't we writing a bill that would require the Legislature and State of Wisconsin to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for providing those same resources and opportunity to every community school in the state? Parents in Kenosha to the rest of the state of Wisconsin would appreciate, I’m certain, excellent schools. Let’s begin that conversation, thank you for your time.

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