Walk-O-Meter: On 2 campaign promises on education, Scott Walker falters

Gov. Scott Walker, now campaigning for a third term, missed on two education promises he made during his 2014 campaign for a second term. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Gov. Scott Walker, now campaigning for a third term, missed on two education promises he made during his 2014 campaign for a second term. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Gov. Scott Walker has struggled to keep two education promises he made during his successful 2014 campaign for a second term:

1. Repeal what are known as the Common Core standards for K-12 schools.

2. Provide universal access to college courses.

Walker now is campaigning to win a third term in the November 2018 election.

When we lasted checked on these promises, more than two years ago, we issued a rating of Stalled on both of them. The governor wasn’t making much progress.

With the end of Walker’s second term looming and no sessions of the state Legislature scheduled before then, we’re ready to make final ratings on both promises.

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Common Core

Common Core is a set of standards for English and math unveiled in 2010 that came out of years of discussion between private nonprofit groups and state education departments. They were put in place in Wisconsin several months before Walker was first elected in 2010.

Walker’s pledge to repeal Common Core reflected opposition to the standards by many conservatives across the country, although the issue has largely died down since then.

Walker’s 2015-’16 state budget reiterated what state law already provided: that no school board is required to adopt Common Core. But the budget did not repeal the standards.

And no repeal action has been taken up since then.

Other recent Walk-O-Meter ratings:

 
  • Increase availability of tuition tax credits for certain students: Promise Broken

  • Freeze technical college tuition for two years: Promise Broken

  • Work with the legislature to repay the raids from the Transportation Fund: Promise Kept

  • Protect the Transportation Fund from raids: Promise Kept

 

Amy Hasenberg, a gubernatorial spokeswoman, told us Walker encouraged the state Department of Public Instruction to remove Common Core standards when the department created a plan to comply with what is known as the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

But again, that’s not repealing Common Core.

We rate this a Promise Broken.

Universal access

On universal access to college courses, Walker’s promise was:

"Expand course options so no child, regardless of where they live or their income, will be denied the same opportunity other students have to access college-level courses of their choosing."

Walker's 2015-'17 state budget included a proposal for the Universal Access to College Courses program. But it was not part of the final budget adopted by the Legislature.

Hasenberg cited to us a number of Walker higher education initiatives, including freezing tuition at University of Wisconsin System campuses and increasing grants for technical college students.

But a universal access plan has not been put into place.

We rate this a Promise Broken.