ON-Lion Letter
"Sharpen your pencils, kids.  Parents and taxpayers, too," begins a September article by Ola Lisowski, a research associate at the MacIver Institute in Madison, Wis.  "With Labor Day weekend just behind us and schools back in session, summer vacation is over.  It is the time of year where Wisconsinites are forced to pay too much for school supplies -- thanks a lot, minimum markup! -- and we take stock of the state of education in Wisconsin.  While the professional educrats and your friendly local school superintendent will tell you everything in Wisconsin is perfect and all of our children are brilliant National Merit Scholarship winners, your humble public servants here at MacIver would like to present an honest examination of our schools and our education system in Wisconsin."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation substantially supports the MacIver Institute.

"The education saga of the summer involved the ever-vexed Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program (OSPP), which was established with the intent of turning around up to five of the poorest performing schools a year within Milwaukee Public Schools," Lisowski continues.  "Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele appointed Mequon-Thiensville Superintendent Demond Means to the post of OSPP Commissioner ....  After many months of seemingly little progress implementing his mild turnaround plan, Means resigned. 

"In the coming year, we hope to see OSPP move along, though the path forward is unclear," she writes.  "One place to start would be naming a new Commissioner committed to the hard work of saving Milwaukee's children from failure.

As for school choice, according to Lisowski, "The number of students participating in choice programs is expected to grow this year, though exact enrollment numbers won't be clear for another few months.  Other than the slow but steady growth, no major changes are expected for any of the state's school choice programs this school year ....  For the time being, most Wisconsin students must attend their neighborhood public schools, regardless of their academic outcomes or even their safety, if their parents aren't well-off enough to send them off to a private school.

And as for ACT exam scores, "Wisconsin's graduating class of 2016 scored an average of 20.5 out of 36 on the ACT exam, a 1.7 point drop from last year's graduating class.  The score drops Wisconsin's ranking to fourth out of the 18 states that test all public school graduates and third in the midwest.  Before all of our students were required to take the ACT exam, Wisconsin scores typically came in second nationally behind Minnesota."

Positive indicators, Lisowski notes, are the state's graduation rate, AP scores, remedial education, and University of Wisconsin enrollment.

"[I]t's on us to remember that politics is downstream from culture," she concludes.  "If we want better results, we must demand them -- starting not with our government but with our parents and children.  It's on all of us.  Every single one.

"Let's get to work."

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