by Benjamin Yount


The Evers Administration will not support the Republican-backed push aiming to ensure sure younger kids are ready to read before the third grade.

State School Superintendent Jill Underly last week wrote an op-ed that dismisses the new reading readiness proposal from Wisconsin’s Republican lawmakers as simply more testing.

“I appreciate that our legislature recognizes the need to concentrate on literacy, but we must remember that increased assessment is not the end goal; improved reading is the end goal,” Underly wrote.

Instead of assessing kids as young as four-years-old for reading readiness, Underly wants to focus on families and “foster students reading to understand themselves and others, acquire knowledge, and participate in a democratic society.”

Republican Sen. Kathy Berneir, R-Chippewa Falls, said Underly’s response is thoroughly unhelpful.

“When 64% of Wisconsin 4th graders can’t even read at grade level, remarks like these show just how out-of-touch these Madison bureaucrats really are,” Bernier said. “Too many parents aren’t told their child is struggling to read until the third grade Forward Exam when their child has already fallen behind and lost self-confidence. Parents don’t want the Department’s wishful thinking about ‘authentic family engagement’ or endless meetings they don’t have time to attend. They need to be informed years earlier that their child is struggling and they need a plan to get their child back on track.”

Bernier said two-thirds of kids in Wisconsin schools cannot read or write at any grade level.

The Republican controlled legislature approved the reading readiness plan last week with Democratic support. The plan is now waiting for Gov. Evers’ to take action.

– – –

Benjamin Yount is a contributor to The Center Square.
Photo “Jill Underly” by Dr. Jill Underly for WI. Background Photo “Child Reading at Brookline Booksmith” by Tim Pierce. CC BY 2.0.