Jarett Fields ER Room: We are the champions

Jarett Fields

This fall, Wisconsin legislators will have the opportunity to vote on Senate Bill 76 regarding charter schools.

The bill strengthens accountability for charter schools, allows more Universities to authorize schools, and encourages successful school operators to replicate. In other words, this legislation is focused on high-performing schools with high-quality instruction. And that’s a good thing.

For those parents with children in high-performing Jarett Fields independent charter schools, they know the value of longer schools days, uniforms, innovative instruction, and a “no excuses” approach to student achievement. Those parents aren’t alone though, school report cards released by Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction show that, on average, independent charter schools had the highest gains in proficiency. So why not expand across the state?

In cities like Madison and Green Bay, where low-income and minority students’ test scores and graduation rates lag far behind their White counterparts, the innovation and autonomy of independent charters are necessary.

Currently, Madison’s Black graduation rate is only 50 percent whereas White students are graduating at 84 percent. While race is a factor, it’s not the overall issue here.

The larger picture deals with the future of Wisconsin and our commitment to making quality school options available to all students no matter their ethnicity, race, or zip code.

The importance of quality independent charter schools cannot be overstated. Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are avid supporters of charter schools as public options for children.

Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Denzel Washington, Alicia Keys, Shakira, Pitbull, Ludacris, and a host of other political and Hollywood stars have lent their voices and support for charter schools.

This is an opportunity for our elected officials to take up the mantle of leadership and work together to support quality educational options.

Those schools that are chronically underperforming should be shut down just as those schools meeting and exceeding expectations should be allowed to replicate.

The work of improving education is our responsibility together, as Democrats, Republicans, parents, community members, and Wisconsinites.

There are no overnight solutions to the difficulties we face with regard to education here in Wisconsin.

Too many of our young men and women are not graduating with their peers, and far too many forego college or leave before attaining their degree. Those children and families need champions willing to do all that it takes to ensure they have a chance to reach their dreams.

I believe this bill creates an environment where charter school operators and authorizers have clearer consequences as well as rewards. But the bill is nothing without champions – and we are the champions!