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Mark Neumann's goal for Wisconsin is to have the best educated children in the world. With a background in education, Neumann is best-suited to accomplish just that. Neumann will enact a comprehensive education plan within his first 60 days in office. The plan will increase accountability, innovation, parental involvement, and local control. It will reduce state bureaucracy and increase dollars directly into the classroom.
Mark Neumann summarizes the most important aspects of his plan for excellence in education.
Mark Neumann's Education Plan Includes:
Career politicians spend too much time, effort, and money on bureaucracy, and leave too little for the classroom. Endless spending will not fix Wisconsin's education system, so we need to hold students, teachers, administrators, and schools accountable by measuring results based on the yearly academic growth of the child.
Acknowledge and reward success, and correct failures.
Remove bureaucratic state controls so local administrators are empowered to make the best decisions for the children. Removing spending on compliance with Madison rules and regulations will ensure that more of your tax dollars reach the classroom.
Undergraduate Degree, Math/Education at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
State education dollars will follow the children to the education institution they attend, as long as the institution meets educational growth requirements. Public, Choice, Charter, Parochial, Home, and Virtual schools can all VOLUNTARILY participate in this program, provided the taxpayers save at least 10% as compared to the corresponding public schools.
Mark Neumann has started his own choice schools in Milwaukee to give at-risk kids an opportunity to learn.
In order to attract the best jobs to Wisconsin, we will need to have the best educated and best trained workforce in the world. Many schools are on the right track, while other failing schools have unintended consequences on the local economy. See Mark Neumann's plan to Create 300,000 Jobs for more information on the intersection of education and the economy.
Wisconsin spends more money on education than any other budget item.1 Yet, while we have some really great schools, others too often fail to produce the necessary results. And, at a time when parents want our schools to do more, Wisconsin's next Governor will inherit a budget deficit.
One solution often put forward to fix failing schools is to raise property taxes and increase school funding. However, tax increases will not correct the underlying problems and will not improve a single child's learning. We should not raise taxes—we should cut spending on bureaucracy and Wisconsin will have more for the classroom.
For example, Milwaukee taxpayers — through the failing Milwaukee public school system — spend nearly $14,000 per child per year. If a classroom includes 30 students, this is $420,000 per classroom. Clearly the amount of funding is not the reason for children failing to live up to their potential. The problem is that only a fraction of the funding is reaching the classroom and the students. Your tax dollars can have the greatest impact when they reach the student, not when they are spent complying with bureaucratic mandates.
Inefficiency is not limited to Milwaukee schools. Mark Neumann recently had a conversation with the superintendent of a rural school district. The superintendent said at least 10% of his district's tax dollars were spent complying with Madison mandates. This is unacceptable. Your tax money should not be funding jobs in Madison; it should be funding the education of our young people.
Mark Neumann answers a question:
I understand the choice schools, what will you do about the public schools?
Over 68% of Wisconsin school districts said they purchase additional testing to accomplish what state testing is supposed to.2 These districts are well ahead of the state in understanding the importance of timely, rigorous testing.
In a 2006 study released by the Fordham Institute, Wisconsin's education standards and testing program received a D-. When compared to other states, we ranked 42nd worst in the country.3
Mark Neumann summarizes his entire education plan on the radio with Jeff Wagner.
Within his first 60 days as Governor, Mark Neumann will form and personally chair a Blue Ribbon Panel tasked with the job of transforming public education in Wisconsin with the goal of making Wisconsin children the Best Educated Children in the World.
The panel will consist of exceptional leaders from the education arena. Different institutions will be represented — public, choice, charter, parochial, home, and virtual school leaders will be asked to join. Others on the panel will include parents, business administrators, school administrators, school board members, teachers, elementary school, high school, and university leaders will be asked to join. Business and employment leaders may also be asked to participate, as well as other community leaders as needed.
The panel members will be chosen based on their experience and passion for education excellence in Wisconsin.
At a minimum, all students should advance one year academically for each year in school. The Blue Ribbon Panel will create a means for measuring progress on a student by student basis, a class by class basis, a school by school basis, and then Wisconsin versus the rest of the nation and ultimately the world.
Ideally 2–3 standardized tests already available and with national norms already established will be selected with the local officials then deciding which one to administer. These are not to be exams written by the state or federal government. This will prevent the "watering down" of standards. Any person or school receiving state dollars shall be required to take one of the selected tests and report the results.
The goal is to measure academic growth, not peak performance. Mark Neumann realizes that some school children come to their schools with economic and other disadvantages. But he also sees every day that all children can learn.
The Blue Ribbon Panel will recognize that children with special needs must also be given every opportunity to succeed, and will develop a plan accordingly.
End Social Promotion
At a minimum, all students should advance one year academically for each year in school.
Mark Neumann will end the practice of social promotion in schools. Sending a child on to the next grade without meeting the standards of that grade does the worst kind of service to our children and their future. Further, it hides the failures of our education system.
Schools and teachers will be measured by how much their students advance academically for one year in school. The Blue Ribbon Panel will grade each school and teacher based on the academic growth of their students as measured by standardized tests. The grades will likely follow the A, B, C, D, and F system.
Accountability and Rewards
Teachers, administrators, schools and parents all play important roles in the education of our children. Wisconsin has many great public schools and some truly exemplary and dedicated teachers. These schools and teachers should be praised and encouraged to become even better and rewarded for their excellence.
The Blue Ribbon Panel will create a "Performance Bonus System" where individual teachers and individual schools compete for bonuses based on academic growth.
Schools and teachers will be measured by how much their students advance academically for one year in school.
Local school boards, teachers, school administrators, and parents know best how to achieve the desired outcome of having the best educated children in the world.
Eliminate State-mandated Teacher and Administrator Certification
For any business to be successful its leadership must be able to make decisions that provide the very best results for their people using their budgets. Therefore, the state will provide school districts with suggested qualifications for school personnel including teachers and administrators, but eliminate state-mandated teacher and administrator certification. Local districts may adopt the state recommendations or use their own qualification system.
Moving hiring decisions from Madison bureaucrats to local school boards is specifically intended to allow the local boards to hire the best educators in the world—uninhibited by state mandates that have little to do with having the best educated children in the world. Universities in Wisconsin and across the country have adapted to the changing economy and bring the best qualified, practicing experts from their fields into their universities to teach classes using real world methods. Our public schools are resistant to their success. Leaders like Jack Welch, Albert Einstein, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow would not be allowed to teach in Wisconsin today.
Teachers educate our children while bureaucrats don't. The Blue Ribbon Panel will find ways to increase the percent of your tax dollars spent in the classroom while decreasing the amount spent on bureaucrats and others not directly involved with the education of our children.
Streamline Education Mandates and Regulations
There is a difference between legitimate standards, curriculums and regulations intended to protect our children and foster their education and the mountain of mandates that are smothering our public education system. In its worst form, these mandates are a transfer of your tax dollars from the classroom where they do the most good to bureaucrats and administrators who — because of the mandates — spend much of their time filling out state and federal reports.
Mark Neumann will untie the hands of the great educators in Wisconsin and give them the freedom they need to best serve the children in their care. To do this the Blue Ribbon Panel will identify specific state mandates that need to be eliminated in order to allow our schools to provide education in a more cost effective manner without hurting the quality of our educational system. The target is to eliminate enough mandates to allow for a 10% across the board savings in the cost of educating our children, while achieving the goal of having the "best educated children in the world."
In colleges and universities across the country, students receive scholarships and grants that can be applied to any qualified institution. This system works, giving a hand-up to many students who have gone on to achieve greatness — whether it be for their community, business or industry.
The goal is to allow for the expansion of school choice, charter, and other innovative schools, give parents more freedom and responsibility in making educational decisions for their children rather than the government, and encourage schools to compete for students by providing the best educational opportunities.
The results of Milwaukee's pilot school choice program are irrefutable: graduation rates are 20% higher than the public schools and costs to the taxpayers are significantly less.P50F P Under a Neumann Administration, any qualified form of alternative education system — choice, charter, home schooling, virtual schools, and/or other innovations — are encouraged to exist provided 1) the outcomes meet or exceed the desired growth rates and 2) the costs are at least 10% under the public schools.
Mark Neumann explains why choice and charter schools provide the education needed for those who 'fall through the cracks' of the public school system.
In areas served by schools that are rated as D or F for two consecutive years, the reimbursement rate for alternative educational systems shall equal the amount being spent on public school students. The increase will give children who attend the most troubled school better choices so they will have the same opportunities as those who attend the best schools.
A wider range of education options will give parents more choices, which will lead to stronger public schools through competition and controls costs to the taxpayers.
Mark Neumann cutting the ribbon at one of his choice schools.
The Milwaukee Parent Choice Program is the nation's longest running publicly-funded voucher program.
According to the School Choice Demonstration Project study, the choice school program saved taxpayers $31.9 million in 2008.
Mark Neumann is a product of Wisconsin's public education system and was trained to be a teacher, a principal, and a superintendant of schools. Neumann received a Bachelor of Science degree in Math Education from UW-Whitewater. He went on to receive a Master's Degree in Supervision and Instructional Leadership from UW-River Falls; which is a degree for school principals and school administrators. Neumann also took post-Master's courses at UW Madison.
Mark Neumann taught math in the public high school system and at a private college for several years. He also taught in the UW system. Neumann later served on a private college's board of regents, chairing the finance committee.
Eight years ago Mark Neumann and his wife Sue co-founded their first choice school in Milwaukee. There are now four schools in the system with nearly 1,000 students learning for their future success. Three choice schools are helping children in Milwaukee and the fourth is a charter school in Arizona.
"Mark Neumann's education plan would be very controversial in a good way because it would challenge the status quo fundamentally. It's actually one of the better education plans that I've ever seen come from a candidate for Governor. . . . This is forward looking. It actually would make a difference in education. It would challenge the dominance of the educational establishment, the teachers union, it would push for more of an emphasis on excellence."
- Charlie Sykes, June 22, 2010
1 WI 2009 Act 28, at 51 (total appropriations for education is $11,657,135,000 for the 2010–2011 fiscal year).
2 Mark C. Schug & M. Scott Niederjohn, Mandated K–12 Testing in Wisconsin: A System in Need of Reform, Wisconsin Public Research Institute, July 9, 2010 (executive summary).
3 Id. ("The Thomas B. Fordham Institute has examined state standards in five subjects: U.S. history (2003), English/language arts (2005), mathematics (2005), science (2005), and world history (2006). The Fordham rankings tended to favor states with highly detailed standards and clear and rigorous content. In 2006, the Fordham Institute released a comprehensive report of its findings to date. . . . Fordham ranked Wisconsin 42nd in the nation. . . . Overall, Fordham gave Wisconsin a grade of D-minus.").
4 Milwaukee's Voucher Graduates: More Evidence of 'What Works', THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Feb. 8, 2010 ("In 2008 the graduation rate for voucher students was 77% versus 65% for the nonvoucher students, though the latter receives $14,000 per pupil in taxpayer support, or more than double the $6,400 per pupil that voucher students receive in public funding.").
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