First let me congratulate the Platteville School District, its students and the many adults who provide them with an excellent PK-12 education.
The new Wisconsin School Report Card rates Platteville’s schools the best in southwest Wisconsin and among the best statewide. The School Report Card measures several important indicators and Platteville’s schools surpass state averages on every indicator at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Each school “exceeds expectations” on its overall score.
Platteville “significantly exceeded expectations” on the indicator that measures if students are on track for post-secondary readiness. In other words, Platteville educators are doing a top-notch job of preparing students for what comes next.
But as most recent high school graduates can tell you, being well prepared for postsecondary education requires more than hard work and talent; it also requires substantial amounts of money. The cost of higher education has skyrocketed, increasing even more rapidly than health care costs. Tuition, fees and books, along with room and board, annually exceed $10,000 at technical colleges, $15,000 at state universities, $20,000 at UW–Madison and $35,000 at private colleges. Summer jobs don’t come close to covering costs. Parental income, particularly for the middle class and poor, rarely makes up the difference.
The unfortunate result is that some deserving students are foregoing further education and many of those who do continue their education are piling up huge debt. Nationwide student loan debt now exceeds $1 trillion; that’s more than all credit card debt.
There was a time a few generations ago when postsecondary education was attainable for those who were well prepared for it. Those of my generation, and the Baby Boomers who followed, had the advantage of higher education opportunity that was well funded by the general public. Since then tax dollars for education at all levels have been gradually squeezed down and there appears to be little political will to restore such funding.
Good jobs and a healthy economy require a workforce with middle and high-level skills. We must not shortchange post secondary educational opportunity for our high school graduates. It is critical for them and for the well-being of our country.
Those of us who have benefited from our unique American opportunities need to do more to ensure that deserving youth have similar educational opportunity. That’s why a dedicated group of Platteville residents has created the Platteville High School Scholarship Fund. I encourage those who are able to donate generously to the PHS Scholarship Fund. Our children and our future depend on your generosity.