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State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor delivered her first annual State of Education Address today at the State Capitol in Madison. While she trumpeted Wisconsin schools successes she also expressed concern for persistent gaps and working towards equity in educational achievement, access and opportunity.

She called the funding increases included in the most recent state budget a down-payment for improving student achievement and committed to working with the governor and legislature going forward to improve educational outcomes.

Excerpts of the speech from DPI:

“While we have some of the highest graduation rates, ACT scores, and Advanced Placement participation in the country,” she said, “we have yet to fully reconcile that success with the deep, persistent gaps in achievement, access, and opportunity that exist for too many Wisconsin children.”

Achieving equity for students is the focus of Stanford Taylor’s agenda. “The power and promise of education — particularly for our most underserved students — is central to who I am,” she said. “It has driven me for as long as I can remember.” She related her own, challenging experiences as one of the first African-American children to integrate an all-white school in Mississippi, then noted how even now, much work remains to be done. She then segued, however, into sounding notes of hope based on the investments in educational equity seen in the 2019-21 biennial Wisconsin budget. “This is evidence of the difference we can make when we work together focused on the right goal — improving the education of all students. I am committed to continue working with the legislature and the governor on achieving this goal.”

The state superintendent summed up how central the idea of equity is to education, “The power and promise of public education has long been a beacon, the great equalizing force in our society and our democracy…. Today, the unity we find in working together hand in hand on behalf of every Wisconsin child could not be more important.”

Stanford Taylor emphasized the importance of teachers as “a critical resource in education,” saying that “supporting them is one of the most important investments we can make.” She introduced a special guest — retired teacher Geraldine Bernard, who was Stanford Taylor’s mentor at the beginning of her career — and called for commitments to “recruit the next generation of educators and embrace the ones we have.”

See the entire speech here.

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