Education Watch: Wisconsin State Superintendent Faces, Fails Tough Questions in Education Interview of the Year

Dec 2, 2022 | Wisconsin Voices Blog

From WKOW ABC-24: A.J. Bayatpour asked brilliant question after brilliant question about Wisconsin’s struggling schools. Superintendent Jill Underly stayed on message: money is the problem, our lowest-performing schools would be fixed if they had lots more money, and our highest-performing schools are great but also need more money.

This matches most of Governor Evers’ proposed $2.5 billion education budget: expensive, but with no strategy to improve quality for kids. Watch it here.

Additional context from IRG Senior Research Director Quinton Klabon:

  • Even when you exclude our 13 biggest districts (Wausau and above), 9,000 more kids are below grade level in reading and 11,000 are in mathematics. Underly’s strategy? More cash to fund curriculum purchases and professional development for teachers. (Districts have already spent pandemic relief on this.)
  • Underly excused our racial achievement gap, the nation’s worst, saying that it “comes down to resources.” Milwaukee spent $14,145 per child at last count but its Black students rank last among big cities. Las Vegas, Houston, Charlotte, and Miami all spent less than $10,000 per child, but their Black students are 1, 2, even 3 years ahead of ours.
  • A lowlight: when asked if $500 million in federal corona aid was enough resources for now, she responded that it sounded like a lot, but to remember that Milwaukee has many children. *shrug*