2021 Wisconsin Legislative Report Card


Wisconsin students and public educators should be celebrated for their persistence and dedication during an incomparably challenging year.

And it’s time to hold lawmakers accountable for failing to ensure Wisconsin students have the policy and resources they need to thrive.

As the Department of Public Instruction releases school and district report cards that reflect the most challenging year on record, we remind Wisconsin that we must hold ourselves accountable for making sure our students have what they need to thrive, rather than criticizing and penalizing our students and their public schools for things outside their control – like a global pandemic, shifting policies, and yet another state budget that fails to meet kids’ needs.

State lawmakers sat idle when schools were desperate for leadership and support, while educators worked round the clock to meet students’ needs during the pandemic.

When lawmakers finally reconvened, legislative leaders ignored the testimony of educators and parents across the state. They ignored the common-sense proposals of the bipartisan Blue Ribbon Commission. Instead they passed into law a budget that fails to meet the minimum needs of our students and fails to close the gaps created in past budgets. Despite all the hype, a $0 increase to spending limits means $0 new spendable dollars in classrooms around the state.

Legislative leaders failed to deliver resources or policies to keep kids safe & meet their growing needs during the pandemic. In fact, 43 state lawmakers even signed a letter asking the federal government NOT to give additional aids to Wisconsin kids. When that federal relief was delivered, clearly earmarked for one-time pandemic needs, lawmakers insisted on using it as a substitute for state aid.

Despite recognizing in 2019-2020 that pandemic scores were inaccurate and unreliable indicators of student or school success, and despite the fact that there was no mechanism for virtual testing in 2020-2021, legislative leaders denied requests to waive state testing and report card requirements during the rudderless year they sat idle.

Those lawmakers now have the audacity to use pandemic report cards to hold our kids responsible for our own failure to support them.

Those of us who truly support student success must demand better. We must do better. We must come together to support the excellent public schools our children deserve.

Our kids are counting on us. Let’s not fail them again. It’s time to hold Wisconsin lawmakers accountable for being the public school champions our children deserve.

Learn more:

See how YOUR lawmaker voted on education-related bills this year at WisconsinNetwork.org/tracker.

Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s analysis of the 2021-2023 state budget that was passed by the state legislature and signed into law by the Governor, compared to the original budget that was proposed by Gov. Evers: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/…/public_instruction.pdf

Recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/…/206_recommendations…

Letter from 43 lawmakers urging Congress not to “bail out” Wisconsin: https://www.documentcloud.org/…/6887345-Letter-to…

About the author: Wisconsin Public Education Network

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