Dr. Holtz on: Improving our Schools

Improve graduation rate and close achievement gap

In every community I have served, we have reduced the dropout rate and in a high poverty urban district substantially increased the graduation rate.
DPI has failed to serve our children and our communities by creating a system where we have as many as 40% of students in some districts dropping out of school. According to DPI’s WISEdash site, as of the 2014-15 school year, the four-year completion rate for Milwaukee Public Schools was 58.2%. This is creating a huge drain on the economy of the entire state. It is estimated that the state of Wisconsin averages about 7,000 dropouts per year. 7000. We are NOT creating a workforce; we are creating welfare communities that become high crime areas. Children who drop out do not have the education or training to do anything else.

Dropouts lower incomes, add to high unemployment rates, an increased need for medical care, and a higher propensity for incarceration creates a virtual vortex that consumes Wisconsinites tax dollars at a vicious rate. In 2011 dropouts cost the state of Wisconsin $503 million in Medicaid costs, incarceration costs and lost income tax.

The economic drain is enormous and negatively impacts every community and individual in Wisconsin. Working with community leaders, we not only reduced that dropout rate, but found opportunities for the students who dropped out in the past. We developed programs which successfully trained former dropouts for graduation and the work opportunities that came along with it.

By the way, the graduation rate is now one of the incumbent’s priorities for his DPI Agenda 2017. Why did we have to lose about 56,000 kids to poverty and crime during his terms in office before it became a priority?

DPI has failed our children by allowing the achievement gaps to get so out of control that according to a recent Journal Sentinel article Wisconsin is last in the nation! Not near the top taking the lead, not even mediocre in the middle somewhere. Dead Last. Largest gap in the country.

If after eight years in office we are dead last in any achievement category, you will not have to worry about voting me out. I will leave because I have failed to serve the children of our state. I personally guarantee that after eight years in office I will have successfully collaborated with our school communities to not only decrease failing schools but close the achievement gaps and increase academic competition on the national and global level, you will not have to vote me out. Again, working with community leaders in Beloit, we raised the bar across the board for every student. The result? We slashed the achievement gap and substantially increased achievement scores at all levels!

We need to give our kids the education they need to be competitive not just in our community, but on a national and global level as well. That is who they will be competing with for the jobs. We need kids who are employed so we don’t have to worry about creating a “welfare state”, but rather we want to create a workforce that has the ability to not only sustain Social Security, but ensure that it is there for themselves and future generations. It does not happen without a solid education.

No one can do this on their own. Teams I have put together have done it in the past and I have a plan for working collaboratively with all of Wisconsin’s districts to do it in the future!