Wisconsin - American Education
The 30th state to join the Union, in 1848. Always a leader in American education, with education a top priority for the majority of its citizens, Wisconsin established its first public elementary school in 1845, its first public high school in 1849 and in 1856 the first kindergarten in the United States. By the end of the 19th century, the state had one of the best-developed public education systems in the United States. In 1911, Wisconsin established the nation’s first statewide vocational education system, while the UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN established the first statewide adult educational network. The state has more than 2,200 public elementary and secondary schools, with a total enrollment of about 875,000, of whom 20% are minority students and 12% live in poverty. Student proficiency is well above average for the nation—consistently among the top 20 states. Eighth grade math scores in 2005 were eighth highest in the nation.
Reflecting the state’s populist traditions, Wisconsin’s public college and university system serves nearly 300,000 students both on campus and in extension and distance-learning programs at all 13 of its four-year colleges and 18 two-year colleges. A pioneer and still a national leader in adult education, the state purposely built its higher-education system with a geographic breadth that allows it to reach almost every citizen in the state—and vice versa. The state also has 35 private fouryear colleges and universities, including Marquette and Lawrence universities and Beloit and Ripon colleges. There are two private twoyear colleges in the state. Graduation rates at four-year institutions are 56.8%.
(See also CHARLES R. VAN HISE.)