By Joe Bachman
With the April 4 school board elections right around the corner, the City Times spoke with incumbent Sandra Hett regarding her views on Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools, and what she would bring to the table if re-elected.
Sandra Hett is a former public school teacher who taught in Iowa and Wisconsin. Hett was in real estate for 16 years in Wisconsin Rapids and has lived in the community since 1972. Hett also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and Secondary Education from Cornell College. She is a strong supporter of public education and has served on the Wisconsin Rapids school board since 1999.
Biggest Issue Facing WRPS?
“I think the biggest issue on local, state and national levels is the attack on public education and the pro-voucher movement. Our state cannot support two school systems — they cannot support the one public school system they have. For example, the voucher program in Milwaukee was started in 1990 and have had $1 billion dollars in funding, and since 1990, 41% of the voucher schools have failed. What does that say for the students that were in those failing schools? How do they make that up? Some of those schools stole taxpayer money, closed mid-year and re-opened in Florida, some refused to pay their staff, and some refused to buy textbooks for their students.”
Thoughts on School Vouchers?
“The voucher supporters in Milwaukee funded a five-year study of the Milwaukee Parental Choice program, and what they found out was that they couldn’t do a five-year study because 56% of the original 9th-graders in the program were not there when it came to 12th grade. So where does those 56% go? They had low-performing students, and when those children left the voucher schools, they experienced significant gains when they returned to the public schools. We’ve had an experiment since 1990 in Milwaukee, and it’s proven that it hasn’t worked, yet we’re going to expand it statewide? We have some private schools here that are very good, like Assumption and Immanuel, but we’re talking statewide, and it’s opening up big conglomerates on Wall Street to open up schools.”
How to Address the Current Teacher Shortage?
“What we’ve here in Wisconsin Rapids to address it is bring our base salary up to be competitive with surrounding districts. We have fantastic staff development — we have 18 different sessions our teachers can take part in, and they have found this very beneficial. We’re finding a great lack of special education teachers and math teachers — it’s been very difficult to find positions. Our teachers our vilified, and that has to stop, and we have to put them on a pedestal to make it attractive to come into the occupation.”
Thoughts on Per-Pupil Aid?
“The Governor has said ‘this is the budget’ and they’re going to do what they’re going to do. Walker says we’re getting ‘X’ number of dollars for student aid, but who knows? We are always very frugal — they might say we’re going to give you $200 for pupil aid, but we might just budget for $100, and anything extra that comes in is great. We’re kind of pessimistic when it comes to the state to come through on promises.”
What will Voters Get if You’re Re-Elected?
“Contrary to the opinion of Jim Scott, I am not in it for power and money. I cannot change the poverty level, nor can I change the first-year college dropout rate. He says the incumbents want the continued dead-end programs designed for the educational elite costing millions in taxpayer dollars and disappointment — wrong, wrong, wrong. I want to continue the great programs and successes that we have had — for example our State Superintendent Tony Evers recently visited to see our exemplary elementary stem program. Governor Walker attended the first graduation of the successful Project SEARCH. Our last public school report card states that we have ‘exceeded expectations’. We will constantly strive to improve student achievement – and the achievement gap has to be narrowed. Also, for the board, the administration, teachers, and the community to continue to work together to provide a quality education for every student.”