By Representative LaKeshia N. Myers
This week, the MacIver Institute reported that one hundred ninety-six students from Wisconsin high schools needed to take remedial courses during their first year in the University of Wisconsin system.
While the UW system has roughly one hundred fifty thousand undergraduate students across fourteen campuses, one might think one hundred ninety-six students taking remedial courses isn’t a significant problem. Think again. When students take remedial courses, they are charged the same rate of tuition, but the courses normally do not count toward their degree program. If a student has to remediate English, math, science, and social studies as a freshman college student, they will have essentially fallen a semester behind their counterparts, and be no closer to attaining their college degree. If the student utilizes student loans for their education, they will have effectively lengthened their borrowing period and added more to their overall debt.
As a former educator, I have seen far too many students in this situation. Many times, students are frustrated and angry when they learn that their remedial courses will not count towards completing their degree. Some have gotten so discouraged that they want to give up on college altogether. This is an expensive cycle; and one that hurts Wisconsin because we desperately need a better educated workforce.
According to the MacIver Institute, “fifty percent of the high schools who received five stars on Wisconsin’s 2018 report cards graduated students who needed the remedial classes. On average, Wisconsin’s “best” high schools graduated classes where 21 percent of students who entered the UW System required math remediation. Those 222 students come from all over the state – Brookfield, Tomahawk, Shorewood, Kenosha, Milwaukee, and many others.” While many reports and rankings on Wisconsin education undoubtedly always point out Milwaukee Public Schools, this report proves that student achievement is not just an issue in the city of Milwaukee. This is a statewide issue. As an educator, this speaks volumes; it shows just how much we need highly qualified teachers in every classroom in our state. It also shows that all of our schools should have a renewed focus on English and math skills.
In his state of the state address, Governor Evers stated that he would be returning Wisconsin to two-thirds funding for education. I hope this encourages school districts to increase their hiring of classroom teachers to help close some of the achievement gaps and help alleviate students needing remediation in college.