OVERCOMING POVERTY AND FAMILY BREAKDOWN South Korea in 1960 was one of the poorest nations on earth. Only one third of their children went on to middle school. Yet, in the last decade they have become #7 in the world in math, #11 in science performance which our Wisconsin  “Stretch Targets” aspire to in the next 20 years. In 1950s in  poverty-stricken Finland, 10% of the children graduated from high school. Today they are #3 in the world in reading. Poland, a country that just 25 years ago endured significant economic challenges with the end of the Cold War is now rated 20 rankings above the USA in math.. The original model schools in the PAVE-SchoolsThatCanMilwaukee movement with performance well above state averages are all located in the very poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee.(One of them, Carmen High School with 90% minority students, over 90% below poverty level and with 13% special ed students, was rated in 2017 by U.S. World News & Report to be the # 1 high school in Wisconsin!) Yes, each Wisconsin school district must deal with their own particular, challenging social circumstance as they go from ‘fair’ to ‘good’ to globally ‘great’. For some it is poverty or broken homes or overworked parents, as well as health and safety issues. It may be parents who are overly protective of their less than challenged, spoiled  children. For the relatively “good” schools in the state, it may be misleading comparisons, parental resistance to more homework, or complacency. But while these challenges need to be adequately addressed, they CAN NOT BECOME EXCUSES for not reaching by age 15  the “Targets”!

MONETARY COSTS Reduction wherever possible of school bureaucracies via managerial efficiency, electronic records, and other streamlining will allow more funds to be devoted to classroom performance. The United States and Wisconsin already spend far more per capita on  K-12 students than any other country except Switzerland. (True, staff health benefits and certain meal and other student subsidies are not included in the calculations of some countries.)  Wisconsin is #12 in the nation in spending per K-12 student, but our scores in math, reading, and science come in much lower (National Center for Education Statistics-Missouri). The 2017 NAEP test indicated that not only were our 4th grade minority achievement  very poor, but that Wisconsin white students had fallen to # 41 in reading. Texas spends $3,103 less per student than Wisconsin, yet their 8th grade math performance is better than that of Wisconsin for each racial group. (See “Resources” page, WI vs. TX.) Every nation that exceeds the USA and  Wisconsin in academic performance spends less for better results! It is focus, monitoring of results, and academic intensity, not more money, that will again make Wisconsin a K-12 Super Education State!

CHANGE AND HARDWORK Not only do the public and charter/voucher school teachers and unions and school boards and students have to change dramatically to realize “Stretch Target” results.  Administration, tax priorities, and business, church, synagogue, and NGO support must also change and adopt. All of us in the state must be involved if “Stretch Targets’ are to work!  Can we be in this together?

{The above is “a laundry list” of success factors. No one Wisconsin school district will likely incorporate them all. But we trust that many of these factors and others will work as districts and individual schools reach out for their “long term stars”!}

See more on how we can create this change!