Classroom As Cube Farm
I've been through my fair share of cube farms in my life, visting a number of corporate employers these past five years. And I've been in a lot of classrooms at K-12 schools, technical colleges, and universitites, all of which follow a pretty similar pattern with a teacher and a whiteboard up front. But at iLEAD Charter School in Mauston, each individual student has their own cubicle to pursue their particular educational endeavor. One student might be working on designing a rocket, and in the cube next door another student is creating art with computer-assisted design software. Both are pursuing excellence in a supportive community of inventors and exploreres. Those are teh students on-site; another group were gone because they had internships with local employers, like a machine shop or car repair center.
Those internship experiences are so important, as I heard from students at Milwaukee Lutheran High School yesterday. MLHS partners with Briggs and Stratton to provide internships for students interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (the so-called STEM fields). And of course I join Governor Walker in applauding UW System President Ray Cross for his visionary effort to bring more internship experiences to more students on the collegiate level. We know from the data that more than 60% of college internships lead to job offers, and a UW-La Crosse economic study recently found that they increase your chances of getting an interview at employers besides your interships site as well. Bravo to iLEAD, MLHS, UW, and all our schools that make hands-on learning a reality for their students.
The Capitol Rotunda is another non-traditional classroom, but on Tuesday my office building was transformed into an exhibition hall for students from our 16 technical colleges. They came bearing cheeses from the culinary arts programs, woodworks from the fab labs, and M&Ms for the machine sorting race. It's always a joy to spend time hearing students tell about their educational accomplishments -- and tasting their cubes of 6-year aged cheddar too!
Opportunity in Northern Wisconsin
Our administration is committed to supporting prosperity across Wisconsin, and Superior Days was a great platform for me to talk about our investments for rural Wisconsin, like broadband grants across the northwoods. I also stopped for 45 minutes with the Great Lakes Intertribal Council to take questions from our neighbors in Wisconsin's tribal communities. I stressed to them the importance of the tribes as our partners in economic development, highlighting great shared programs like the Fast Forward grants for timber professionals and home health aides at the College of the Menominee Nation, or WEDC support for the revolving loan fund affiliated with the American Indian Chamber of Commerce. As we bring jobs and growth to communities across northern Wisconsin, the tribes are crucial to creating broader prosperity for all our citizens.
Opportunity in Urban Wisconsin
From small towns to big cities, my week also brough to the fore the reality that poverty persists in some corners of our communities. In particular, I met with the staff and residents at Homeless Connections in Appleton and the Cathedral Center in Milwaukee, both of which work with our Division of Housing and Community Development.
I learned about the award-winning "Wheels-n-Work" program, supported by our Departments of Transportation and Workforce Development, which makes low-cost cars available to people who need transportation to jobs far from traditional public transit. We're goin to continue putting a spotlight on both the poverty that afflicts too many families and the programs that are successfully bridging people to independence and stability. Our efforts in touring regional and local homeless and prison reentry programs this year will hopefully lead to a healthy exchange of best practices and scaling up or across the most successful ideas. We need all hands on deck in our economy, which has a persistent 80,000+ open jobs. Folks can't help us out and take these jobs if they don't have stability.