Eau Claire School Board passes resolutions opposing referendum restrictions and supporting voucher transparency

The Eau Claire Area School Board, under the leadership of WEAC member and School Board President Chris Hambuch-Boyle, has passed resolutions asking state legislators and the governor to oppose measures that would restrict the ability of school boards to raise money through referendums and to support the Wisconsin Voucher Taxpayer Transparency Bill.

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Report says virtual schools need to be improved before expanding

Students in virtual schools are, overall, not performing well, and policymakers should focus on analyzing and improving virtual education before allowing expansion of these schools, according to a new report. The report by the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute is based on in-depth analysis of virtual education in five states, including Wisconsin. It found, for example, that in 2015-16 Wisconsin had 26 virtual schools enrolling 6,424 students, and two-thirds of the virtual schools that were rated received unacceptable performance ratings according to state standards.

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Supreme Court ruling a disappointment for voucher school proponents, NEA president says

In a narrowly written decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer that Missouri could not refuse a playground grant to a church solely due to the fact that the church is a religious institution. However, the court’s refusal to rule broadly will surely be a disappointment to school voucher proponents who had sought to use the dispute over playground resurfacing grants to undermine state constitutional protections for public education.

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Trump-DeVos cuts will ‘really hurt our public schools,’ Monona Grove teacher says

The cuts proposed by President Donald Trump and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos “are going to really hurt our public schools,” Monona Grove teacher Kelly Sullivan says. “There are a lot of people who are getting into this education privatization movement that are very dangerous because they are all about making profit off of students instead of being about the value of learning and the value of helping kids learn,” Sullivan says.

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Citizens overwhelmingly want their legislators to support public education

A recent Marquette University Law School poll showed a whopping 80 percent of Wisconsinites believe we should invest more money in public education. So as legislators address the education portion of the state budget in the coming weeks, it’s important to focus on what educators, parents and communities have repeatedly said they want: More funding for neighborhood public schools. It’s time for elected leaders to deliver, with a budget that restores funding for the majority of students, a budget that reigns in exploding private voucher spending, and a budget without last-minute surprises that have never before seen the light of day, much less a public hearing.

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NEA’s Eskelsen García says DeVos is ‘throwing students under the bus’

In testimony before Congress Wednesday, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos refused to say she would deny federal funding of private schools that discriminate against students. That, and other responses from DeVos to questioning by members of a House appropriations committee during a review of the Trump administration’s education budget proposal, prompted NEA President Lily Eskelsen García to tweet that DeVos was “throwing students under the bus.” Eskelsen García tweeted that DeVos is still unqualified and still using alternative facts. “We should invest in what makes schools great, the things that build curiosity and instill a love of learning,” she tweeted.

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Rather than closing low-performing schools, officials should invest in them, research project concludes

Investing in low-performing schools is a better way to benefit students than closing those schools, according to a new research report. “Closing schools based on academic performance is not a promising solution for turning around low-performing schools,” according to the new policy brief by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC). “School closures negatively impact student achievement and well being, especially among students living in low-income and underserved communities.”

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Legislative Update – April 24

Bill increases state aid for special education and school age parents programs to no less than 33 percent of the school district’s costs … Bill would raise early retirement age from 50 to 52 for protective services employees and from 55 to 60 for general employees, and change the calculation for a participant’s final average earning from the highest 3 years to the highest 5 years … Series of bills introduced to restrict the ability of school districts to win passage of local referendums … Bill would require DPI to first submit its ESSA plan to the Assembly and Senate education committees for approval before it goes to the federal government … Joint Finance Committee to begin state budget deliberations … Senate Education Committee will hold an executive session on bills related to recovery charter schools and a mental health training program.

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Teacher asks legislators to put voucher program to a statewide vote

La Crosse teacher John Havlicek asked legislators Wednesday to put the private school voucher program to a statewide vote. In testimony before the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee at a hearing in Ellsworth, Havlicek also submitted the written testimony of nearly 100 people – mostly educators – supporting public education over vouchers.

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Educators, parents ask legislators to prioritize public schools over vouchers in state budget

Educators and parents are asking members of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee to provide more funding for public schools that educate all children and pull back funding for private voucher schools. “To me it seems our current situation will only get worse as more money is allocated for vouchers and less for public schools,” wrote La Crosse teacher Rose Kulig.

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