Three reasons why Mary Burke’s leadership in education is so important for Wisconsin’s future

Jarett Fields ER Room

By Jarett Fields

Jarett Fields

Jarett Fields

Gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke is known mostly for her business acumen with Trek Bicycle Corp, which was founded in Waterloo by her father, and as Commerce Secretary under Governor Jim Doyle.

But her record on education is also noteworthy. The balance that Burke has struck between business and education savvy puts Wisconsin in a great place to benefit from her leadership.

As the state with the highest black-white achievement gap, solutions are vital for our economic future.

Here are three reasons why Mary Burke’s leadership in education can chart us on a course to closing the achievement gap and improving our economic outlook.

1. Vision. Mary Burke has a vision of education in our state where students have all the support they need in order to realize their dreams.

Her record shows a commitment to that vision.

From her work with the Boys and Girls Club to her support for Madison Prep, Burke has shown a willingness to embrace new and sustainable partnerships for public schools to ensure all students get a quality education.

2. Collaboration. Burke’s collaboration and desire to close the achievement gap led her to being a co-founder of the AVID/TOPs program.

The program partners the Boys and Girls Club with the Madison School District and prepares low-income and minority students for college.

A 2012-2013 assessment showed that students involved in the program had higher grade point averages, higher graduation rates, and enrolled in advanced placement courses at a higher rate than those low-income and minority students not participating in the program.

As a Madison School Board member, Mary Burke’s collaborative efforts meant viewing Madison Prep, a proposed charter school, as a partner in educating Madison’s youth.

3. Inclusivity. One of Mary Burke’s strengths has been her willingness to invite others to the table and solve difficult problems.

Her private and public sector efforts have worked well in the past and there’s no reason to believe she cannot continue on that path.

This is especially important for the state’s economic outlook.

As an entrepreneur and as Commerce Secretary, Burke’s record of success is evidence that inclusivity works.

As governor, Wisconsin should expect Burke to continue her openness with regard to addressing the economic and education struggles of the state.

Executive leadership of Wisconsin requires recognition that Milwaukee is the major economic driver for the state.

Not only is Mary Burke familiar with Milwaukee’s economics, she has publicly recognized its importance relevant to job creation and economic growth.

As election season dawns, voters should prepare themselves for a tough, consistent effort by Mary Burke.