A new survey of Wisconsin businesses paints an unflattering picture of the education system in the state. According to the Wisconsin Employer Survey, nearly three-quarters of businesses think students graduating from the public K-12 system are not prepared for the workforce. Making matters worse, 56 percent of respondents said they have employees who struggle with the ability to read or do math.
The unsettling new information sadly reflects the fact that more than 60 percent of students cannot read or do math at grade level in Wisconsin.
“Not only is this new data disappointing, but it should also make all of us outraged,” said WMC Senior Director of Workforce, Education & Employment Policy Rachel Ver Velde. “Wisconsin’s public school system is failing our children, and it is having an outsized impact on our workforce and economy.”
With young people set up for failure, employers are now having to step in to provide remedial education for workers on top of the technical training they already offer. Forty-one percent of businesses said they have provided employees with additional education or tutoring because their K-12 education did not prepare them with the basic skills needed for a career.
The educational failures are also impacting Wisconsin’s already challenging workforce shortage. According to the survey, nearly two-thirds of employers said they have reduced hiring requirements in an effort to get more job applicants.
“Wisconsin taxpayers should be asking themselves what our return is on the billions of dollars we spend each year on public education,” added Ver Velde. “We cannot measure success by how much money is spent. Instead, we need to start focusing on what students are learning and if they are being set up to succeed upon graduation.”
“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”
The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”
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