Opportunity Wisconsin: Rep. Shelton- American Rescue Plan is a “down payment on our schools”

GREEN BAY, Wis.— In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week, Wisconsin State Representative Kristina Shelton spoke on Tuesday evening with Fox Valley area educators about how the American Rescue Plan is making historic investments to help keep Wisconsin students safe and learning on track. Educators also reflected on the past year and how to move forward safely. The event, hosted by Opportunity Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), was moderated by UW-Green Bay Professor and Opportunity Wisconsin steering committee member Jon Shelton.

Professor Shelton opened the conversation, highlighting the many ways the American Rescue Plan is making historic investments in Badger State schools, and reminded viewers who stood in the way of this critical relief, “Wisconsin students and educators are getting the help they need from the American Rescue Plan, but with no thanks to Senator Ron Johnson or Congressman Mike Gallagher, both of whom voted against the American Rescue Plan.” [WATCH]

Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, Wisconsin received $2.1 billion in funding for schools, including  an estimated $15.5 million for Head Start, a program that has been essential for Badger State families over the past year. Head Start currently serves 15,441 Wisconsin children through 276 program locations, and this money will be crucial in expanding this life-changing program to more of Wisconsin’s children.

“Head Start and a lot of the social workers at other schools were actually delivering meals to families. They would take their cars and drop off meals at families’ homes. It was a beautiful thing that we could do for the kids,” said Jessica Carney, a Head Start teacher in Green Bay and a member of the Green Bay Education Association.  [WATCH]

“I have hope because of this funding – it’s a down payment on our schools. It’s a belief in our schools. The success of our schools is central to the success of our community,” said Representative Shelton. [WATCH]

The American Rescue Plan provides Wisconsin public schools with safety resources and helps address inequities exposed by the pandemic.

“[COVID-19] has really just exacerbated issues that have been there for quite some time. It varies from district to district, but there are still similar issues that, with this bill being passed, we can hopefully make some progress on. Whether it’s through high speed internet access, or providing counselors and special education staff and paraprofessionals, to making sure our students are getting the services that they need,” said Brian Milz, a special education teacher in West De Pere and a member of the West De Pere Education Association. [WATCH

Rhoda Kambandu, a special education paraprofessional and member of the Green Bay Education Association, helped close the conversation on an optimistic note by reflecting on what the American Rescue Plan’s investments will mean for the future of education, “I’m hopeful for the changes that will come in how we deliver education.” [WATCH]