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Highlighting Evers’ education failures

By M.D. Kittle

Wisconsin Spotlight | Nov. 2, 2022

MADISON — IRG Action Fund is launching a campaign to educate residents in Beloit and Janesville about Gov. Tony Evers’ education failures.

The fund, a conservative advocacy partner of the Institute for Reforming Government, is releasing a series of targeted postcards and digital ads in highlighting the struggles of the public schools in Beloit and Janesville, despite historic increases in spending.

IRG Action’s campaign follows on the heels of test scores that show statewide reading and math proficiency continues to plummet. Evers has effectively led public education in Wisconsin for nearly 14 years, including a decade as superintendent of the state Department of Public Instruction.

“Under Tony Evers’ watch, Wisconsin schools have transformed from being a leader to being left behind nationally,” the postcards assert, citing data from the National Center for Education Statistics. “During his time at the Department of Public Instruction, Wisconsin students fell from 9th to 24th in math among other states. Students scored higher before Evers took office.”

The test scores are particularly alarming in Beloit and Janesville. Data show:

  • Only 13% of Beloit students are college/career-ready in reading and 10% are college/career-ready in math.
  • The School District of Beloit has the lowest reading proficiency in Wisconsin.
  • Only 38% of Janesville students are college/career-ready in reading.
  • Just 1 out of every 3 students are proficient in math in Janesville, despite the state spending $370,000 per classroom.

CJ Szafir, IRG Action’s chief executive officer, says the underperformance in the two school districts is unacceptable, and parents need to know the truth about how far their children are being left behind.

“The failed status quo gives us fewer and fewer graduates ready for the workforce, to build up our communities, and to give Rock County a brighter future,” he said.

Education is a key issue on next Tuesday’s ballot. IRG Action notes it will be getting out the word to Wisconsin residents about the “grim realities of Wisconsin’s K-12 school system and mobilizing them to call their lawmakers to effect real, systemic change that turns our struggling schools around” as the the next legislative session looms.

“It’s time for the taxpayers of Beloit and Janesville to make their voices heard, which is why we’re asking them to call Governor Evers and insist on real accountability, putting parents first, and common-sense reforms to save our schools,” Szafir said.

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