Legislative Update – June 15

The Joint Finance Committee unanimously nixed the governor’s plan to move state workers to self-insurance, after halting meetings for over a week, saying it was risky and they can find other ways to insure schools. “I’m happy we were able to do that without sticking it to state employees,” Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, told Madison insiders. Other topics include the debate over K-12 funding, referendum restrictions and private school vouchers.

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Report urges policy-makers to make rural schools a higher priority

A new 50-state report urges state and federal leaders to make rural students and their communities a far greater priority and notes that Wisconsin rural schools receive far less state support than the national average. “While some rural schools thrive, far too many rural students face nothing less than a national emergency,” said Robert Mahaffey, the executive director of the non-profit Rural School and Community Trust, which produced the report titled Why Rural Matters.

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Legislative Update – June 12

With the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee holding off meetings last week and committing to none in the future, the division between Assembly and Senate Republicans around, among other topics, education is front-and-center. The Assembly is still pushing its own education budget that differs significantly from the governor’s, while leading senators say lawmakers should work off the governor’s proposal and the promise of per-pupil categorical aids of $200 and $204 over two years – or perhaps the Senate Republicans will make their own.

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Legislative Update – June 5

While public education advocates were expecting the Joint Finance Committee could take up some measures relating to the K-12 budget soon, things seem to be at an impasse. The delay comes from a stir around school funding caused by the Assembly Republicans again floating the idea of creating their own education budget, which could cut about $90 million from the budget proposal currently on the table. Senators continue to push back hard, saying they will work off the original plan.

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Legislative Update – June 2

The Joint Finance Committee is expected to take up K-12 funding in the state budget next week, and there are several hearings set for stand-alone bills that impact students and public schools. Topics include restrictions on school referendums, special education funding, pupil testing and private school vouchers.

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Republican legislators expand proposed restrictions on school referendums

The first in a series of bills that restrict local control for conducting referendums, SB 187, received a public hearing this week, with some surprise changes. At the last minute, without providing an advance look to the public, legislators who make phony claims of supporting “transparency” and “local control” introduced a substitute amendment that significantly changed the reach of the proposal.

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Public listening sessions scheduled on ESSA plan

Listening sessions on the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan will be held June 12 in Pewaukee, June 15 in Tomahawk, June 16 in Oshkosh, June 19 in West Salem, June 19 in Milwaukee, and June 27 in Madison. The listening sessions are conducted by the Department of Public Instruction and will feature short presentations with information about Wisconsin’s ESSA plan followed by guided discussions.

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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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