Educators heralded during State of Education Address
State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor lifted up the amazing work of teachers and education support professionals in the face of the pandemic during the annual State of Education Address. She also gave a hint of what’s next, including what her proposed 2021-23 education budget would include.
“Over the summer, our school districts and community partners continued to provide a multitude of services to our children and families, at the same time our educators and leaders devised strategies to move beyond the early emergency response,” she said. “I am immensely proud of their work, and the work of the DPI, which has mobilized across every content area to provide support, guidance, and best practices to our schools.”
“I believe it is important we support our educators, respect their voices, their concerns, and their feedback – in times of calm and crisis,” she said in the address, adding afterward, “Educators have moved mountains to keep students learning.”
WEAC President Ron Martin praised Stanford Taylor’s support for Wisconsin Public School educators and commitment to advancing equity. “As the majority of school districts are holding classes in-person, many Wisconsin educators are in impossible situations, weighing their deep desire to be with students with their own health and that of their families. Wisconsin’s top superintendent understands that educators continue to go above and beyond to keep students learning and safe, as well as respects our role in local decisions.”
When it comes to the next education budget her department will forward to the governor, Stanford Taylor said she is aware of how economic realities will impact the state budget. “However, it is my hope our leaders can and will continue to prioritize public education and the needs of our most vulnerable learners,” she said, later calling the last state budget a “toe in the door.” She said she plans to submit a budget proposal grounded in educational equity that seeks the resources all schools need to provide each child a quality education.
When outlining her plan to request an increase to special education categorical aid and for mental health, Stanford Taylor said:
- Leaders must ensure schools have the funding needed to meet requirements under law. The pandemic has amplified the problem of unfunded special education costs, which already exceeds $1 billion and causes districts to backfill those costs with general education funds.
- The push for additional mental health funding is driven by the fact that one in five students face a mental health issue and 60 percent of high school students self-reported significant mental health needs before the pandemic.
Stanford Taylor stressed the need to advance equity in all areas of education. “I know the obstacles we face are many,” she said. “I also know we must do our part by becoming an agent of change. It is time to finally shed the title of having the largest Black-White achievement gap in the country; to examine our systems, policies, programs, and ways of engaging with students, families, and each other; to truly listen to the voices of Black and other marginalized communities and deliver inclusive learning experiences that meet the needs of every child.”