By Alexis Benton
School is in session for kids across Wisconsin. The start of a new school year is exciting for children, but it is important to remember that not every child has the same education opportunities.
The enrollment of Milwaukee Public Schools is comprised of 50% Black children and 28% Hispanic children according to the Wisconsin Public Radio. The Milwaukee School System is also found to be close to, if not, the most segregated school system in the country when compared to other metropolitan areas.
One thing standing in the way of students’ success is the lack of teachers in Milwaukee. Another barrier is the need to address literacy. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, in 2022, fourth graders in Milwaukee who attend public school had average reading scores of 187 compared to the Wisconsin average of 217.
To set children up for success, it is important to include teachers from diverse backgrounds that reflect those of their students. It is important to invest in curriculums that focus on phonics to give children a strong base. Finally, it is essential to invest in early childhood education such funding for Child Care Counts and increasing childcare provider’s pay.
Recently, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) announced the members of the Early Literacy Curriculum Council and they will review and recommend instructional materials under Act 20. This is a good first step being taken, but it requires continuous efforts from local and state leaders, families, and community to ensure children from diverse backgrounds are provided with the necessary resources to ensure their academic success.