SAA Legislative Alert on SB 1 — Response Needed

By John Forester | January 26, 2015

The SAA is issuing a Priority Legislative Alert on Senate Bill 1.

Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), relating to school accountability, will have a public hearing before the Senate Education Reform Committee at 9:00am on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 in Room 411 South, State Capitol.  The SAA is planning to testify in support of the bill.

Senate Bill 1 is a significant improvement over Assembly Bill 1.  However, that doesn’t mean our job is finished.  The situation regarding Senate Bill 1 is very fluid and if we are not strong in our advocacy the bill could easily go south from here.

Senator Farrow, Chairman of the Senate Education Reform Committee, has made it clear that the bill could change significantly if he hears from a clear majority on Tuesday.  He has been a supporter of multiple assessments and many believe he is looking for an opportunity to amend the bill and move away from a common single assessment.  Rumor has it that advocates for multiple assessments (voucher proponents) plan to pack the hearing.  Also, Governor Walker continues to press for A-F grades in accountability legislation.

We urge SAA members to take action now!  Please contact Senator Paul Farrow and Senator Kathleen Vinehout in support of SB 1.  Senator Vinehout is ranking Democrat on the Senate Education Reform Committee.  We recommend that you frame your communication drawing from the talking points below and add any personal reflections that complement this information.  In addition to contacting Senator Farrow and Senator Vinehout, it is extremely important that you copy your own Assembly Representative and State Senator on this communication.

Talking points:

Many SAA members have asked questions about the two review boards in SB 1: one in DPI for public and independent charter schools and one in DOA for private voucher schools.  We would prefer that all were in the same system but, unlike Assembly Bill 1, this approach is constitutional and DPI has signaled they could tolerate this set-up.

For your convenience in contacting your legislators, we have provided links to the Assembly Directory, the Senate Directory and Who Are My Legislators.

If you should have any questions please email me.  Thanks for listening and, as always, thank you for everything you do on behalf of Wisconsin school children.

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SAA Comments on Walker Licensure Plan

By John Forester | January 23, 2015

The SAA commented on Governor Walker’s alternative licensure plan in this morning’s Wisconsin State Journal news article written by Molly Beck.

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Walker Proposes Alternative Teacher Licensure Plan

By John Forester | January 22, 2015

From the Wheeler Report . . .

Governor Walker has announced parts of his workforce readiness plan which will be included in the 2015-17 state budget.  Today’s announcement includes:

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December Revenue Numbers Released

By John Forester | January 21, 2015

​As reported by the Wheeler Report, the Department of Revenue has released the revenue numbers for December FY2015.  According to the release, revenue collections were down by 2.6% over December FY2014 and down 2.7% over FY2014 collections to date. The biggest decrease was in corporate collections which were down 11.2% over December FY2014 and down 8.0% over FY2014 collections to date.

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Public Hearing Scheduled on Senate Bill 1

By John Forester | January 21, 2015

The Senate Committee on Education Reform and Government Operations has scheduled a public hearing Tuesday, January 27th on that chamber’s version of the school accountability bill, Senate Bill 1.

See the hearing notice here.

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WisPolitics: School Accountability Stock Falling

By John Forester | January 16, 2015

In its end of week political stock report, WisPolitics had this to say about what it called the falling political stock of school accountability:

School accountability: Ten months ago, lawmakers ended the session divided over how to test public, choice and charter schools, and whether those that consistently fail state benchmarks should be punished. Now they’ve got a lot of the same issues dogging the school accountability bill — and some good sniping between Speaker Robin Vos and Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald over the process. Both leaders said late last year school accountability would be a top priority of the new session. But even some backers say the early going has proved lawmakers should have waited another two to three weeks before unveiling the bills. The Assembly went first with legislation that would create one board to oversee public, voucher and charter schools with the state superintendent chairing it and making six appointments to the 13-member body. That had choice backers crying foul because they believe DPI and state Superintendent Tony Evers are biased against the voucher program and would seek to undermine it. The Assembly bill also called for turning public schools that consistently underform into charter schools. The Senate authors, however, proposed two boards, one for public and charter schools and one for voucher schools, hoping to ease concerns from the choice community and address constitutionality questions over DPI’s authority of public education under the package. Meanwhile, the Assembly plows ahead with a public hearing on its bill only to have author Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fond du Lac, announce minutes before it began that he planned to make significant changes. That included dropping the idea of a board altogether. The move leaves Dems — and some Republicans — incredulous. How do you have a hearing on a bill that doesn’t exist? If that wasn’t enough drama, there’s the Vos and Fitz show. Tensions between the two leaders were noticeable last session, and insiders say they haven’t tempered with the new year. Vos raises the prospect the two houses could pass their own bills and then go to conference committee to hash out their differences. Fitzgerald, who days earlier knocked the “mob mentality” in the Assembly, rejects the suggestion immediately, saying it would be “foolish.” The guv injects some life into the topic as well, saying sanctions don’t have to be in an accountability bill to win his signature. Vos, however, is remaining firm that he wants them in. Add it up, insiders say, and Republicans may eventually be able to get there on an accountability bill this session. But the sausage-making won’t be pretty.

 

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Walker: Parents Need Information, Not School Penalties

By John Forester | January 16, 2015

​In an updated article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jason Stein reports on Governor Walker’s statements in support of a school accountability system that provides parents with objective, transparent information rather than penalties for under-performing schools.

In response to reports that key lawmakers would like to see the Senate’s accountability bill, Senate Accountability Bill, amended, Luther Olsen, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, had the following quote in the article:

 “Our bill is a good bill,” Olsen said. “Why would you negotiate with yourself?”

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SAA Testimony on Assembly Bill 1

By John Forester | January 14, 2015

The SAA testified before the Assembly Education Committee on AB 1.

See testimony here.

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Senate Republicans Unveil Accountability Bill

By John Forester | January 13, 2015

Senators Olsen, Farrow, and Fitzgerald unveiled the Senate Republicans Accountability Bill earlier this afternoon.

The SAA is currently reviewing the draft but as you can see it addresses many of the concerns we had with Assembly Bill 1.

See the bill here.

See Milwaukee Journal Sentinel coverage here.

More to come.

 

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State of the State Address Tonight

By John Forester | January 13, 2015

From WisPolitics.com…

Governor Scott Walker will deliver his annual State of the State address tonight in the Assembly chamber.

The guv is expected to add some detail to his plan to reorganize state government and touch on priorities like a school accountability bill and legislation that would ensure schools are not required to participate in Common Core.

But he is expected to largely save details on how he plans to solve a $2.2 billion budget shortfall until his budget address Feb. 3.

Tonight’s speech, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., will be broadcast live on Wisconsin Public TV and WisconsinEye.

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