State superintendent stresses importance of education funding during annual address

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Jill Underly stressed the importance of funding education in the state to invest in the future and close the achievement gap during her State of Education address Thursday afternoon.

In her address, Underly said that while the state has a history of educational innovation and continuous investment, “we do not see that investment today.”

“We must think critically about how that is impacting our children and our state, and we must make a different decision,” she stressed.

The Department of Public Instruction’s 2023-25 budget proposal aims to make school funding more predictable and sustainable by increasing per-pupil aid payments to school districts and providing additional state support. It also calls for increasing revenue limits so districts don’t have to go to voters in referenda.

During her remarks, Underly said it’s past time to reform special education funding as parents and teachers have called for. DPI’s budget proposal includes a $750 million investment in special education.

“For every single student to succeed is our constitutional and community responsibility to eliminate the achievement gap,” Underly said. “But we cannot call it that – we cannot call it an achievement gap, because a gap in outcomes is caused by a gap in inputs. And we can do something about the inputs, it’s just that historically we have chosen not to, or at least, chosen not to do enough.”

Following her speech, five teachers from around Wisconsin were honored with Teacher of the Year awards. Recipients included Wisconsin Rapids art teacher Dustin Anderson, Minocqua library media specialist Peg Billing, Superior biology teacher Lori Danz, Shorewood geography teacher Sarah Kopplin and Oshkosh school counselor Kaelee Heideman.

Read Underly’s full remarks here.