Public education advocates grade legislators
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – As the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) releases its 2018-19 school district report cards, public education advocates are releasing report cards of their own focusing on state legislators.
On Tuesday, Nov. 12, the Wisconsin Public Education Network, a nonpartisan public school advocacy organization, released report cards for all state legislators in an effort to hold lawmakers accountable for education votes.
“We need to connect the dots between student needs and legislative performance,” Heather DuBois Bourenane, executive director, Wisconsin Public Education Network, said in a press call Nov. 11.
Based on their most recent budget votes, the report cards grade lawmakers in five categories, including K-12 budget, special education, bilingual/bicultural needs, mental health and public funding for private schools.
DuBois Bourenane said because the report cards focus on legislators’ votes on the state budget, the grades are not surprising.
The budget passed on a nearly straight party-line vote.
Democrats received high scores, while Republicans received low scores.
Parent organizer of Green Bay Advocates 4 Public Education, Kathryn Carley said legislators are failing to do their jobs when they fail the majority of Green Bay students who attend public schools.
“We are an urban district with growing mental health, trauma and special education needs,” Carley said. “Parents are tired of our voices being ignored while state lawmakers have the nerve to grade our schools, which they continue to underfund.”
Julie Underwood, president of the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools board of directors, said during the press call the point of the report cards is to “focus on the peril that public schools are in.”
Underwood and DuBois Bourenane both hope the report cards will prompt members of the public to have “open and honest conversations with lawmakers.”
“We hope we can get to a Wisconsin where every lawmaker exceeds expectations,” DuBois Bourenane said.
The report cards for all state legislators can be found at WisconsinNetwork.org/blog/report-cards.