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New year offers chance to prepare every child

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Tony Evers
September 1, 2009

The first day of school always brings a sense of anticipation and excitement. Students have new teachers and classrooms, many a new school. So thereís some adjustment. Change is necessary.


As your new state superintendent of public instruction, I want to change the course of education in Wisconsin. We must focus on results.


Around 65,000 public school students in our state graduate each year. Compared to the rest of the nation, Wisconsinís graduation rate is pretty good. However, almost 7,000 of our students drop out of school each year. Thatís too many; one dropout is too many. And, between students who drop out and those who graduate, between students who succeed academically and those who struggle, there are large disparities by race, ethnicity, disability, and socio-economic status. This is wrong. This must change.


My administration is centered on ensuring that every child is a graduate ready for further education and the workforce. To change the course of public education, we must recruit and retain quality educators, invest in innovation, ensure safe and respectful schools, advance common sense accountability and work toward fair and sustainable school funding.


Public education has the power to change lives. We must work together for the sake of our children.


However, as we focus on results, we must not neglect the joy and inquiry that are part of being a child. Along with mathematics, science and reading, there are lessons of teamwork and collaboration, questioning and investigation, adaptability and innovation. These are skills that employers say they need. So Wisconsin is working to teach these skills as part of our academic curriculum. This is one of many avenues we are pursuing that will help us change education in Wisconsin for the better.


We cannot fear moving forward. We must insist on results and, at the same time, hold on to compassion and kindness. Our children deserve no less. Their education will last a lifetime.


Tony Evers is the elected state superintendent of public instruction. Contact him at 125 S. Webster St., P.O. Box 7841, Madison, WI 53707-7841; phone (608) 266-1771; e-mail DPIstatesuperintendent@dpi.wi.gov.

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