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Expand school choice now

By Tommy Schultz

Wisconsin Spotlight | Oct. 26, 2022

On Monday, the National Center for Education Statistics released national achievement scores for fourth and eighth-graders. These scores are the first of their kind since the pandemic and highlight yet again what families across the country know: We are facing an educational crisis, and parents need options now.

In the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores, both eighth-grade and fourth-grade math scores showed their largest declines ever recorded, at eight and five points respectively. In reading, fourth-grade and eighth-grade scores dropped by three points, although the drop is far bigger in many states.

In Wisconsin, the situation is dire:

• According to the NAEP results, Wisconsin has the largest racial achievement gap of any state in the nation.
• Wisconsin students’ performance fell sharply, nearly across the board.
• African American students in Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) are last in the nation in reading.
• Despite more than a billion in historic funding for public education during the pandemic, only one out of five children in Milwaukee can read and do math at grade level.

The American Federation for Children calls on every lawmaker to act to expand school choice as soon as possible so that parents trying to help their children catch up can have options for doing so.

The student testing data released on the Nation’s Report Card shows we aren’t a nation at risk – we are a nation in free fall. The news is outrageous but sadly not surprising. Anyone who has paid attention to the education system and the special interests that control it over the last few years knows that it has unacceptably failed. Countless children are being left behind. It’s past time to fund students, not the systems that keep failing them.

Tommy Schultz is CEO of the American Federation for Children.

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