Residence halls are being prepped, school supplies are flying off the shelves, and the sports season has already started. As local K-12 and college students get ready for classes, which begin Sept. 2 in most schools, it’s a perfect time to pause and reflect on the importance of education.
The job Wisconsin is doing educating its students from kindergarten through college will be an important campaign topic as we head into the fall elections. That’s justifiable, as our future workforce and community leaders are being shaped and prepared through education.
The workforce shortage that looms in Wisconsin because of the retiring Baby Boomers makes the success of education even more important. We need an educational system that simultaneously preps students for vocational and trade occupations as well as setting a clear course for higher education degrees.
The standards and methods we use — and how they are measured — have been and will surely be debated and be a part of our political campaign. While partisan politics has a way of putting education in the crosshairs because of money, we should all agree that Wisconsin cannot be a great state without great teachers who help provide a great education.
Last week it was announced that Wisconsin has retained its No. 2 spot among states that use the ACT college entrance exam. The state’s score of 22.2 out of a possible 36 trailed only Minnesota’s 22.9 and was up by one-tenth of a point.
“Businesses and industry leaders have told us that to be college-ready is to be career ready,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers.
In spring, Wisconsin and Minnesota will be among 19 states that will require all high school juniors to take the ACT. That will likely result in an overall drop in test scores.
While more than 50 percent of state graduates earned three or more ACT benchmark scores in math, science, reading and English, there is plenty of work to be done. One in five of Wisconsin’s graduates met none of the readiness benchmarks. There also remains a gap in college-readiness among various ethnic groups.
Improving college readiness is the goal of a program that will launch this fall at Central and Logan high schools. The La Crosse Public Education Foundation announced last week that it will provide $200,000 over a three-year period to implement AVID — Advancement Via Individual Determination.
AVID is designed to benefit traditionally underserved students, and the inaugural class will have 58 freshmen and sophomores. National figures show that 93 percent of AVID seniors completed college entrance requirements and 76 percent were accepted into a four-year college.
We thank the La Crosse Public Education Foundation and the donors who helped fund the program — Otto Bremer Foundation and the La Crosse Community Foundation — for pushing forward on such an important plan. We also thank all of the teachers, administrators, aides, bus drivers and parents who help make our schools great.