Last week, Gov. Walker signed Executive Order #22: Read to Lead Task Force.
The idea, taken from Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, aims to improve reading scores among students in kindergarten through third grade. But Walker's plan also removes one of the main tools for students to learn: reading specialists.
All school districts are currently required to have reading specialists. Walker's order eliminates this requirement, much to the dismay of the Wisconsin Education Association Council.
"Eliminating experts who teach students - especially those who struggle most - how to read at the same time he's creating new reading requirements is poor policy," said the union in a statement. "If you want to elevate student reading standards you should concentrate on giving them the individualized resources they need to succeed."
Joe Quick, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, says many districts "can probably share a reading specialist." But he notes other peculiar things about Walker's initiative. For instance, the task force is being placed within the Department of Administration, not the Department of Public Instruction.
Quick says, "It seems like the individuals who work at DPI have a better understanding of reading issues than the Department of Administration."
Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie, as usual, did not respond to a request for comment.