ALEC conference continues group’s focus on undermining public schools, Rep. Chris Taylor says

State Representative Chris Taylor, a Democrat from Madison, just got back from another American Legislative Exchange Council conference, and concluded: “The issue of the moment for ALEC is public education — that is, undermining it.” … “For ALEC, it is all about tearing down our public-school infrastructure so corporate privatization efforts can move in and make a buck,” she writes in a column published by The Progressive.

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Now’s a great time to join the free NEA edCommunities!

Have you been looking for a great online community where you can collaborate with colleagues both in Wisconsin and throughout the nation? NEA edCommunities is the place for you! At NEA edCommunities, you can: Collaborate with school and community stakeholders; Join groups on specific education topics and  issues – or start your own; Share and access free, high-quality curricula and mashable resources to use as you wish to create customized learning tools; Expand your professional opportunities with virtual learning events; Improve student learning; and much more.

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‘ParaEducators deserve quality, ongoing professional development’

The federal education law known as ESSA spells out several opportunities for ParaEducators to receive quality professional development, writes Lynn Goss, a ParaEducator in the St. Croix Central School District and a member of the National Education Association Board of Directors. It’s important that all ParaEducators make sure their school districts make these professional development opportunities available and then take full advantage of them. “Join me as I continue to advocate for targeted and ongoing professional development that all ParaEducators need and deserve,” she writes.

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Do cellphones belong in the classroom?

The announcement this week that Portage High School would be banning cellphones from the classroom this fall has generated a lot of reaction on both sides of the issue. While many believe cellphones distract from learning in the classroom, others believe they can be used to supplement learning. At the same time, some parents like the idea of always being able to reach their children via cellphone.

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Foxconn special session starts Tuesday amid growing pushback

Governor Walker on Friday called for a special session starting Tuesday on tax breaks and other incentives to bring a massive Foxconn plant to Wisconsin. Meanwhile, Democrats and others are questioning whether Foxconn can be trusted to follow through on its promises and whether this is a wise investment of billions of dollars of Wisconsin taxpayer money. In an op-ed in UrbanMilwwaukee.com, Rep. Jonathan Brostoff writes: “If we are willing to spend billions of taxpayer dollars then let’s employ Wisconsin workers, fix every pothole in our state, hire community connectors and park staff, invest in renewable energy infrastructure, fully fund our world class university system, hire teachers for our schools, and invest in the success of small businesses across our state.”

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Fire extensively damages Kenosha Education Association building

An overnight fire extensively damaged the Kenosha Education Association headquarters. The fire began about 3:30 a.m. Friday, and nobody was in the building at the time, according to authorities. There were no injuries. “Our Association of educators continues to assess the situation and will lose no time moving forward with our mission – supporting Kenosha educators so they are best prepared to welcome their students back to school,” said Jill Jensen, a Kenosha teacher and president of the Kenosha Education Association.

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NAACP calls for elimination of for-profit charter schools

In a highly anticipated report, the NAACP Wednesday called for elimination of for-profit charter schools and more equitable funding for all schools serving students of color. “No federal, state, or local taxpayer dollars should be used to fund for-profit charter schools, nor should public funding be sent from nonprofit charters to for-profit charter management companies,” the organization says in its report titled Quality Education for All: One School at a Time. “The widespread findings of misconduct and poor student performance in for-profit charter schools demand the elimination of these schools. Moreover, allowing for-profit entities to operate schools creates an inherent conflict of interest.”

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Legislative Update – July 27

An Assembly bill (AB-452) referred to the education committee would terminate Wisconsin’s voucher program, including special needs vouchers, and replace the achievement gap reduction program with an expansion of the SAGE program. Also, Wisconsin strikes an agreement for a massive Foxconn plant in Wisconsin, with the state providing tax credits totaling up to $3 billion over 15 years.

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Study links Great Recession to growing skills gap in high-poverty neighborhoods

A new study of the impact of poverty on education following the Great Recession finds a growing skills gap in high-poverty neighborhoods. The study – conducted in part by the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin–Madison – found that children from the highest poverty neighborhoods start school almost a year behind children from the lowest poverty neighborhoods in terms of their academic skills.

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