Wisconsin’s largest union of educators stands behind Race to the Top application
Below is a statement by Mary Bell, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, on the state’s Race to the Top Phase Two application submitted this week to the federal government:
“As a Wisconsin Rapids teacher and president of the state’s largest union of educators, I know Wisconsin has much to be proud of when it comes to our public schools. While we celebrate the good things happening in our state – high graduation rates, highly qualified teachers, top scores on college entrance exams – we must acknowledge that some of our schools are struggling.
“The members of the Wisconsin Education Association Council are teachers and education support professionals who work in classrooms every day. Make no mistake about it. Our members are committed to improving the quality of our public schools. We are not content to sit back if even one school is struggling.
“We stand for sound education policy that works for our students, and that’s why teachers and support staff have stepped forward in support of Wisconsin’s Phase Two Race to the Top application. It was developed with input from front-line educators. After all, we have a unique perspective as to how policy decisions are implemented inside of the schoolhouse doors. It is only by working together that our state can achieve the primary goal of Race to the Top – improving student learning.
“This application is one more example of what the union has been doing to continually improve Wisconsin schools. It goes hand-in-hand with other initiatives we’ve undertaken, like:
- Stepping up WEAC’s efforts to get parents and communities more involved in their local schools; and
- Calling for smaller class sizes to increase student learning, as well as early childhood education to reach at-risk children sooner.
“Included in the application are ambitious initiatives WEAC has long supported, including a balanced, responsible approach to using student test data, and high quality teacher training and mentoring. All of this is focused on helping educators do their jobs better. And that has a direct impact on student learning.
“These are important, research-based strategies tailored to our communities and our local traditions that will help everyone involved to catch and support students before achievement gaps become insurmountable. If implemented correctly, it’s more likely these initiatives can be sustained even after one-time federal funding is gone.
“It is my hope that this application is successful, but I also know that Race to the Top isn’t a silver bullet. It’s absolutely going to take all of us – working together – to keep our schools strong for future generations. As one school year comes to an end, and we look ahead to another, I urge you to find out how you can get involved in a local school in your community. We all have a part to play in keeping our schools strong, because great schools benefit everyone.”
Mary Bell is a Wisconsin Rapids teacher and president of the state’s largest union of educators.