November GBM: Wisconsin Education Reform

Updated: Mar 1, 2020

NSBE MAP kicked off the first General Body Meeting of the chapter year on November 20th. We greatly appreciate the show of support to discuss a very relevant and important topic - Wisconsin Education Reform! Engineers, educators, politicians, and more gathered for Happy Hour networking before our formal panel discussion began.

Fortunately, we had a phenomenal panel of topic experts including Wisconsin State Representative David Bowen, Education Director Kevin Ingram, and Escuela Verde Advisor Zaynab Baalbaki. Our panelists answered intriguing questions ranging from curriculum enhancement for college readiness to community influence on education. Our panelists came prepared!

In fact, the discussion opened up with a very pressing question for Rep. Bowen regarding the impact and designation of our taxes. He and Zaynab provided interesting insights like the fact that surrounding areas like Shorewood have a budget per pupil of about $1100 ; whereas, Milwaukee only has $900 and charter schools have even less. Because of this, the

teachers in Milwaukee need to be "creative" to provide the same quality of education of the surrounding areas.  So much so, that Milwaukee schools are considered the training arena for surrounding schools. Are we doing what is necessary to push our students to have an IB or AP education and investing as much in every MPS school as other cities?

Educational greatness for underrepresented black and brown students doesn't have to be optional, we can make it nonnegotiable. Ten years ago, we were pushing for more students to be in STEM in the city of Milwaukee and across the US. Starting the next decade of 2020, we are presented with the Gold plan.  Kevin states that we need a "Gold Plan" investment in important initiatives like educating our Milwaukee students with "nothing but the best", which helps access their untapped potential. He goes on to say that "Gold Plan" investments have payed off in Milwaukee like Fiserv Forum payed off with the boosted performance of the Bucks. Kevin describes a state of the art school with the finest equipment, greatest facility and advancement of technology.  We were all surprised to hear this was in fact an MPS school.

In addition, traditional teaching and grading is being re-approached.  Escuela Verde, where Zaynab is an adviser, teaches their students how to solve real problems and engineer solutions from filling the pot holes in the city or adding solar panels to the building.  Students are taught how to be the change they want to see in their communities.  Empower them to be experts, using their voice and knowledge to change their world for the better.

NSBE MAP will continue to connect with our youth and expose the city to Black STEM professionals. This is an opportunity for all of us to stand behind our teachers to allow them to teach without the $80 million gap of funds.  Also, it better equips our students to be their best selves. Get involved with school boards, backing every point in theory of research - your advocacy is mandatory.  This is not a parental responsibility but a communal responsibility for the children who will be the doctors, lawyers, scientist, technologist, mathematicians and of course engineers that will build the future for us.  


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