Three reasons seem to stand out. (But we solicit your input for other motivations)



American  and global companies invest in locations where there is much ‘welcome’,  tax incentives, a growing industrial or enterprise base, a quality of life style for employees and their families to match their economic interests, and most always a quality work force. Despite our low WI unemployment numbers, there are not only over three million jobs at every national level , including at least 180,000 in Wisconsin, which are not being filled due to lack of qualified workers (Pres. Ray Cross, UW System, 1/15). It is as true in Watertown, WI as in Silicon Valley!

Business (and our advanced schools) today desperately need skilled workers (and graduate students) with fundamental tools that are globally competitive . If our Wisconsin economy begins to catch up with Minnesota, that will be even more so! With the momentous advances in technology now and in the future, one thing is certain. We may not know whether more welders or more futuristic 3-D manufacturing ‘foreman’ are most needed in the next 10~ 20 years. (65% of careers in fifteen years likely don’t exist yet!) But whatever, we do know that basic reading, writing and counting performance with the best in the world will be a fundamental MUST for all STEM and ‘blue collar’ jobs of the future!

In addition, if a growing segment of our State’s population due to poor skills and low paying jobs fall below the poverty line, Wisconsin companies will experience smaller markets/less demand/fewer retail consumers for their products and services.



True, this  educational “Stretch Target” is needed not only for ‘slow learners’ but for all of our Wisconsin K-12 students who are not in special education. But our poorest students are the most undereducated among the poorest of all First World Countries (OECD Report). Furthermore, the educational achievement gaps between rich and poor students as well as the income gaps continue to grow in most Wisconsin communities. As important as short term welfare and nutrition programs are for children, the only way, with rare exceptions, for people to move out of poverty and into the middle class, is the traditional American route of excellent education. Global “Targets” where preparation begins at ages 4~5! If we wish to have smaller economic divisions in our Wisconsin society where many more people contribute, it will not happen because of mediocre, slightly improving K-12 education… or even Affirmative Action or the War on Poverty, as important as some of these programs have been during past eras. It WILL BE demanding, rigorous accountable education for all!

The Hebrew-Christian tradition of serving and feeding “the widow and the orphan” has for generations rightly been a driving force for social passion and movements in Wisconsin. Good! Let’s keep that up! Yet, another biblical side to this issue which most Christian churches and synagogues pay far less attention to is ‘getting the poor out of poverty” and into jobs that can sustain a better, more dignified life style. The Psalmist says not only to feed the poor, but to “raise  the poor from the dust and lift the needy from the trash heap” {Ps. 113:7}. Not just feed and free them, but give them back their families and dignity and the resources to regain self-sufficiency above the poverty line. In the New Testament Magnificat (Luke 1), Mary sings about “…lifting up the lowly and filling the hungry with  good things” (not only food but…education… ample work preparation… jobs that support families). A reversal of fortunes! Let’s address the real sources of the gaps, not just keep people alive and enabled!

In America and hopefully in Wisconsin, as our Declaration of Independence states: “…all men (people) are created equal…and endowed with certain unalienable rights…” Is not the right to “the pursuit of happiness”, among other things, to have equal access to very high quality education, like in many other countries? This has always been the main ladder of mobility for millions of Wisconsin immigrants/other ethnic groups over our history.




If one looks at history, there are both domestic and international factors that ‘bring down great nations’. Domestically, Wisconsin and the nation must have sound, honest, moral government and institutions as well a high degree of well educated citizenry participation and a high quality, globally competitive economy. Internationally, a nation must continue to develop the globally most advanced technology and military to survive as a leader. If our K-12 and then advanced education system is not able to develop the interest, enthusiasm, and knowledge of math and science , eventually our nation will succumb to other more powerful nations. In 2015, for example, in our world renowned  UW-Madison in most strategic majors, the overwhelming number of graduate and professional students are not only not from Wisconsin, but not from the United States as well. (64% of Computer Science graduate students in 2015 were non-American, 89% in mechanical engineering; 80% in electrical engineering; 76% in statistics, 60% in mathematics; 79% in economics. Most of these non-Americans came from China.) Welcome! And they should be very welcome to long- term living/working in Wisconsin after graduation! Still, sooner or later, this domestic advanced education STEM “gap’ also will catch up with the Republic. Don’t let it happen, Wisconsin!

And if a nation can not read well, even in this digital age, its ability to know history, literature and politics will sadly be lacking; and citizen preparation for ‘global participation’ and political and business and church leadership will be inadequate!