Walker Modifies Common Core Position

By John Forester | December 17, 2014

From WisPolitics.com …

Governor Scott Walker said today he now wants legislation that would repeal any requirement for local school districts to follow Common Core, while still allowing those that are using the standards to keep them.

Republicans drafted legislation this session that would create a state panel to devise an alternative to Common Core, but it did not clear the legislature.

Walker said as talks have progressed, he believes it makes more sense to “say no mandate” and repeal any language in administrative code or statutes requiring local boards to follow Common Core.

He said some districts have complained they’ve already moved forward with implementation of Common Core. This approach, he said, would give them the freedom to do so while allowing a debate at the local level on what standards to follow without an edict from the state.

“Schools should be able to make those decisions where they can hear from parents and local taxpayers and others at the local level and not have that dictated to them either by groups or outside the state or in many ways even at the state level,” he said.

“I believe in high standards. I just don’t believe they should be set by people outside of the state of Wisconsin.”

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Former Employees Cast Doubt on Voucher School

By John Forester | December 16, 2014

Erin Richards of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has followed up with another enlightening article on embattled voucher school Ceria M. Travis Academy.

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Voucher School Faces Penalty Unless Improvements Made

By John Forester | December 9, 2014

​As reported by Erin Richards of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a long-standing voucher school operator is under orders from the state to shape up her organization’s reporting processes and meet other requirements or face getting kicked out of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.

The founder of Ceria M. Travis Academy suggests that DPI is the “bad guy” in this case. Travis Academy has missed four state deadlines for submitting financial documents in recent years. By state law, that is grounds for removal from the program.

Here are a couple more interesting facts taken from the article:

” . . . just 2% of students at Ceria M. Travis Academy were proficient in reading in fall 2013, according to the most recent statewide test score results. The average reading proficiency for voucher schools in 2013 was about 12%.”

Dorothy Travis Moore’s “total compensation was $218,000 in 2012, according to the most recent federal filings for the nonprofit.”

See the article here.

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Voucher Programs Closing in on 30,000 Students

By John Forester | December 9, 2014

In this morning’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Erin Richards notes that the total number of students receiving private-school tuition vouchers in Wisconsin is about to cross the 30,000 threshold, costing Wisconsin taxpayers an estimated $211 million this fiscal year.  Richards also discusses a variety of questions surrounding the taxpayer-subsidized private school tuition programs in Wisconsin.

See the article here.

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State Senate Committee and Office Listings

By John Forester | December 5, 2014

​​​​Numerous SAA members have been asking for Capitol Office contact information for their legislators.  This has been complicated by not only the number of new legislators moving into the Capitol but also  the “office shuffle” among veteran legislators.

 The Wheeler Report has just put out the following information on the Senate offices as well as the Senate Republican committee assignments.

Sen. Fitzgerald announced the committee structure and Republican appointments yesterday.  The link below is a chart of all Senate committees and Republican appointments.  Included on the list is the committee chair with office location and office phone number.  Please note the office location is the offices the legislators will be in for the 2015-16 session.  Office moves are expected to be completed by Thursday, December 18. Also, senator-elects office locations and phone numbers are listed, but they do not officially take office until January 5.

Senate Democrats committee assignments will be added once announced.

Senate Committee Listing

Senate Alphabetic Office Listing

Senate Numeric Office Listing

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Vouchers, Open Enrollment a Budget Headache for Racine Unified

By John Forester | December 2, 2014

I thought this article from the Racine Journal Times was interesting and instructive on the impact of vouchers and open enrollment on school district budgets.  The data and insights from RUSD Deputy Chief Financial Officer Marc Duff is the real highlight of the article.

 

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Transportation Budget Request Would Divert Resources from Schools

By John Forester | December 2, 2014

​In its budget blog post from yesterday, the Wisconsin Budget Project notes that the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) has proposed, in DOT’s biennial budget request, that the state divert resources normally used to support strong schools, communities and health care systems, and instead use the money to construct and repair highways.  The post contains facts and figures regarding the transfer of funds from the general fund to the transportation fund over the past 14 years.  An interesting read.

 

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Lawmaker Promises to Pass Special Needs Vouchers

By John Forester | November 21, 2014

A Republican lawmaker whose daughter has Down syndrome promised Thursday that a divisive proposal to create a voucher to help students with disabilities attend private school in Wisconsin will pass “one way or another.”

See the article by Scott Bauer of the Associated Press here.

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MacIver Institute Suggests Changes to Public Retirees’ Health Care Benefits

By John Forester | November 20, 2014

​A report published by a Dallas-based libertarian think tank and Wisconsin’s conservative MacIver Institute calls for changes to the state’s health care benefit program for public retirees.

Read more here.

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A Beginning: Public Release of SAA’s WI’s PK-12 Pathway to World-Class Student Success

By John Forester | November 20, 2014

Yesterday, the SAA publicly released its evidence-based policy agenda.  Please click here for photos, video and news coverage of the event.

The public release marked the beginning of our efforts to build support for evidence-based state educational policies.  And, we know that the most important conversations, moving forward, will not be held in Madison but rather in every school district throughout the state.  When educators sit down with student leaders, parents, and community and business leaders to share the impact of state policy on educational opportunities we know that these stakeholders, over time, will become advocates for evidence-based state educational policy.

In the coming weeks we hope that every administrative team begins to plan how to engage their stakeholders in this conversation.   Please click here for materials to help you get started.

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