MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced a big push for education reform Thursday. This announcement comes after months of work by three separate bipartisan task forces.
Walker's announcement focuses on three areas to improve Wisconsin education, which may help qualify the state for a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act.
First, his initiative, "Read to Lead," works to get kids reading at an earlier age and calls for more rigorous teacher licensing exams. The second initiative is called "Educator Effectiveness," which is aimed at creating a fair assessment of teachers and principals. The final initiative is "School Accountability," which looks at rating all schools based on student growth and progress towards higher education.
Walker said he is keeping the promise he made for education reform while running for governor.
"I'm not going to talk about much more about what's happened in the past,” said Walker.”What's happened in the past year other than to say that that was what I laid out two years ago at this forum as a candidate for governor. That's what I've done in the past year as your governor, and that's what I hope to continue to do as your governor into the future."
Both the La Crosse School District superintendent and the Wisconsin Education Association Council, or WEAC, the state's largest education union said these ideas are not new.
In fact, these initiatives have already been under development for several months and in some cases several years.
Both the superintendent and the head of WEAC worry how these initiatives can be put into action with a lack of education funding.
“Conceptually, it's a good first step,” said La Crosse School District Superintendent, Randy Nelson. “I think conceptually there are some things inside of this that can help us move forward. I think the question is going to be how rapidly and how is this going to work, and that's yet to be seen.”
“Our real concern about that is that it isn't backed up by the fact that reading specialists and library media specialists and classroom teachers who work directly with students on learning to read are being issued layoff notices,” said WEAC President, Mary Bell. “And districts, as they try to deal with the massive budget cuts that this governor has introduced. “So it's a question of having the actual actions match the rhetoric that supports public schools."
Two bills are being drafted right now on Walker's announcement. They will be presented to the state legislature in the coming months.
Walker made Thursdays announcement after months of work by three separate bipartisan task forces, including support from State Superintendent Tony Evers.
Thursday, Evers released a statement saying, "Despite my leadership in these arenas and constitutional authority, I have not been involved in the drafting of the education proposals that have been announced. Clearly, it is essential to see the details of this proposed legislation and ensure they match the intent and spirit of all the work that so many groups and individuals put into improving schools and academic achievement for all students in Wisconsin."