WUWM: Education Reporting

Education news is often mired in discussions about big issues — policies, budgets, political fights. WUWM’s Education Reporter Emily Files also wants to tell student’s stories and hear from parents, teachers and others helping kids succeed.

What are you curious about when it comes to education in the Milwaukee area? What do you think is missing from the education conversation in this region?

Help Emily by submitting your question below.

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Emily Files / WUWM

Gov. Tony Evers wants to increase state special education funding by $600 million. The dramatic proposal follows a decade of flat state funding, despite rising costs to serve students with disabilities.

Right now, the main state support for special education only covers about a quarter of school districts’ costs. It’s up to local districts to make up the difference.

Courtesy Jesendra Tatum

Low-income students tend to face more barriers to higher education than their middle- and upper-class peers. Federal financial aid is supposed to help clear the way.

But part of the financial aid process, called verification, ensnares many low-income students in a confusing web of red tape.

CHUCK QUIRMBACH

Snow and brutally cold temperatures prompted many Wisconsin schools to cancel classes most of this week. Milwaukee Public Schools are back in session Friday after being closed five school days in a row, starting Jan. 25.

When temperatures dropped to minus 20 degrees Wednesday, parents cooped up with their kids at home had to find creative ways to burn energy.

Emily Files / WUWM

The future of four Milwaukee charter schools is a little more certain after a school board decision Thursday night.

The MPS board voted 5-2 to extend its contract with Carmen Schools of Science and Technology, a local charter network. It serves 1,700 mostly low-income students.

Carmen’s two-year contract extension comes with caveats, following significant controversy.

Emily Files / WUWM

Should the Milwaukee School District embrace or distance itself from charter schools? That is the larger question looming over the MPS board as it weighs whether to renew its contract and building leases with the Carmen Schools of Science and Technology charter network.

Carmen’s 1,700 students have better overall test results than the district average. Still, advocates for Milwaukee’s traditional public schools are raising concerns.

Courtesy Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

 

Carolyn Stanford Taylor is Wisconsin’s first African-American superintendent of schools. She was appointed last week by Gov. Tony Evers to take over his former job leading the Department of Public Instruction (DPI).

Stanford Taylor has firsthand experience with America’s deep-seated education inequities. As a 9-year-old, she was one the first black students to integrate schools in her hometown of Marks, Miss.

She says her mom posed the question to her and her siblings one day on the walk to school: do you want to go to the black school or the white school? 

Emily Files

At Tony Evers’ inauguration last week, he repeated one of his central promises: that he would invest more in public education.

“We talked about what’s best for our kids is best for our state,” Evers said. “And that means we need to fully fund our public schools at every level.”

Emily Files

It's been an interesting year for education in Wisconsin. With 2018 coming to a close, let's look back at some of the biggest education stories in the state.

Education was a central topic in the contest between incumbent Scott Walker and challenger Tony Evers.  Walker called himself "the education governor."

"In the last budget, we gave the largest actual-dollar investment in K-12 education in the history of this state," Walker said in his first debate against Evers. 

Screenshot/Wisconsin Eye

There could be major funding changes on the way for Wisconsin public schools. A lawmaker-led committee on education spending met for the final time Wednesday. It put forward a list of recommendations for legislative action.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding traveled around Wisconsin in 2018. It took testimony from administrators, teachers, parents and students. The consensus: an overhaul of Wisconsin’s education funding system is overdue.

Emily Files

For 25 years, the Wisconsin legislature has restricted how much school boards can raise local property taxes. Some education leaders argue that the rules put schools on an uneven playing field. And they say the tax ceilings have become untenable in recent years.

The restrictions at issue are called revenue limits. They impact 80 to 90 percent of school boards’ budgets, controlling how much a board can spend in state general aid and property taxes. The result: school boards' ability to raise mill rates is confined to a legislature-determined dollar amount.

SCREENSHOT/JULES SUZDALTSEV/TWITTER

The Baraboo School District will bolster education about the Holocaust and examine equity in its schools following the controversy over a photograph of a couple dozen students giving what appears to be a Nazi salute.

The prom photo was taken in May but received international attention after being posted to social media last month.

Emily Files

You’ve probably seen the now-infamous photo of dozens of Baraboo high school boys making what appears to be a Nazi salute.

Emily Files

What does the 300-student Plum City School District have in common with the 20,000-student Kenosha district? Both think an increase in special education funding is overdue.

Emily Files

Sixty percent of college graduates are women. But they’re not pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) at the same rate as men. Women represent only 35 percent of undergraduate STEM degree-holders in the U.S. — Milwaukee’s Alverno College is trying to chip away at that imbalance.

Emily Files

It’s a record-breaking year for school referendums in Wisconsin. Unofficial results show voters backed 94 percent of ballot questions in Tuesday’s election, including all in southeastern Wisconsin.

Counting elections earlier in 2018, more than $2 billion in school referendum spending has been approved this year. That surpasses the previous record of about $1.7 billion in 2016.  

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