July 27, 2021

State Superintendent Underly: 4-Point Plan for Ensuring Student Access

State Superintendent Underly: 4-Point Plan for Ensuring Student Access Featured Image
Dr. Jill Underly

Only 21 days into her four-year term as State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Jill Underly addressed her first audience – a group of WEAC union members at the annual leadership academy.

“My parents loved learning,” Underly said, describing how her family traveled to Washington, D.C. when she was about 13 and how it caused her world to “open up.”

The trip provided what she called “access,” an advantage not shared then or now by all students in the school community. Access includes exploration, feeling safe, travel, music, world languages and other opportunities.

“All kids deserve access,” she said, describing her four-part plan the state Department of Public Instruction will do its part:

  1. Invest in early childhood education. Catching learning problems early is always good policy. It is especially helpful for working families who often have childcare issues.
  2. Invest in teachers. With fewer students entering colleges with an intent to teach, recruitment and retention need to be Wisconsin priorities.
  3. Provide more mental health support. Mental health supports have been a growing need in our schools, and more now with the pressures of COVID.
  4. Implement a school finance system that works for all public schools. Wisconsin’s broken school funding system forces local school districts to raise property taxes to improve their schools, exacerbating inequalities.

Underly decried the recent state budget pushed by Republican legislative leaders for the damage it will do to public education, leaving school funding flat to where it was the previous year and voice her commitment to leading Wisconsin Public Schools.

Contributed by WEAC-Retired member Glenn Schmidt.