Ideas to Impact Blog

A Bottom-up Model for K-12 Education is the Most Effective

Why is a bottom-up model for K–12 education the most effective?

So much about education today is focused on immediate metrics like test scores, but when we look at the broader longitudinal data, K–12 education that provides multiple school options while putting families at the center of educational decision-making and encouraging schools to be pillars of strong communities has the most meaningful impact. Multiple studies done over the years continue to show that college attendance, high school graduation, and civic engagement are higher for students in Wisconsin’s parental choice programs than students in public schools. These long-term results inform The Bradley Foundation’s ongoing 30+ year commitment—joined by the Bradley Impact Fund donor community—to investing in student- and parent-first K–12 education.

There are thousands of kids in Milwaukee and Wisconsin ready to take control of their lives, and families ready to be partners with their teachers and school leaders. That energy and ownership is stifled by top-heavy bureaucracies, not just in schools but whenever government oversteps into citizens’ lives. To improve the education opportunities for students and encourage their formation as informed citizens, we support schools with clear values and focused missions that seek to build their communities around students and families. The strong relationships between teachers, students, and parents that develop in an organic model are a vital influence in quality education that prepares students to successfully pursue their dreams and be active participants in American society.