Wisconsin State Journal: Don’t Waste Common Core Effort

By John Forester | July 25, 2014

The Wisconsin State Journal ripped Governor Walker’s call for repealing the Common Core State Standards in this editorial.

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The Week in Common Core

By John Forester | July 21, 2014

Yes, sometimes ignorance is bliss . . . at least for a little while.  Such was the case this past week when I took my kids on vacation to Door County.  I was extremely successful at totally unplugging.  I mean no news, no emails, no texts, no phone calls, no nothing.  Imagine my surprise (and yes, chagrin) this weekend as I started catching up on all of the Common Core news from the week.

First was Governor Walker’s announcement calling on the Legislature to pass a bill repealing the Common Core.  In this one-sentence statement, Walker said the Legislature should repeal the Common Core and “replace it with standards set by people in Wisconsin.”

As partisan sparring ensued, State Superintendent Tony Evers issued a news release supporting the Common Core State Standards and pleading with state policymakers to “keep politics out of the classroom and remain focused on what’s most important — delivering a college and career ready education to Wisconsin’s students.”

Little noticed was an editorial from the Beloit Daily News that called the outlandish claims about the Common Core made by radical politicians “nonsense.”  The paper went on to say that the reasons behind the development of the Common Core continue to make sense.

Then, we were treated to Republican legislators trading jabs over the Common Core and the Governor’s statement, as captured in these articles from the Madison Cap Times and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Finally, long-time Journal Sentinel education reporter and columnist Alan Borsuk batted clean-up with a column that is must reading for all SAA members.  In it Borsuk claims that Walker’s Common Core statement and the ensuing furor indicates that the “silly season is in full swing.”

Ah yes.  The bliss of an unplugged vacation was good while it lasted, but now it’s over.  More to come on the continuing “silly season.”  Thanks for listening and, as always, thanks for all that you do on behalf of Wisconsin school children.

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Assembly Republicans Brace for War on Common Core

By John Forester | July 8, 2014

Veteran political news reporter and columnist Steven Walters has penned an interesting, and somewhat alarming, column on Assembly Republicans’ preparations for continuing the war on the Common Core.  It’s recommended reading for all SAA members.

See the column here.

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General Aid Estimate Released for 2014-15 School Year

By John Forester | July 1, 2014

More than half of Wisconsin public school districts will receive more general aid in the 2014‑15 school year than they did for the 2013‑14 school year according to estimates released today by the Department of Public Instruction.

For additional information, including access to district aid estimates, see DPI News Release here.

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Wisconsin Gets Bad News on Both Taxes and Spending

By John Forester | July 1, 2014

Long-time respected budget and policy analyst Jon Peacock of the Wisconsin Budget Project explores the implications of what appears to be a gradually deteriorating fiscal situation in Wisconsin.

In his conclusion Peacock says, “Taken together, the latest revenue and spending developments raise serious questions about the wisdom of committing so much of the projected state surplus for another round of tax cuts, before the projected revenue increase actually materialized.  To maximize the size of the newest round of tax cuts, lawmakers suspended the portion of the statutes requiring half of the revenue increases to be deposited in the Rainy Day Fund.  It’s beginning to look like the result will be a significant increase in the structural deficit, and perhaps more immediate budget problems in fiscal year 2014-15.”

See the rest of the article here.

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Olsen Comments on SAGE Study Committee

By John Forester | June 23, 2014

According to The Wheeler Report, Senator Luther Olsen said the Legislative Council Study Committee on the Student Achievement Guarantee in Educations (SAGE) Program was established after the Speaker’s Task Force on Rural Schools report was completed. Olsen said the SAGE program has been around for some time but the program has not been reviewed. Olsen said the committee will look at SAGE and see if the program is doing what it is supposed to do, what it was intended to do, or does the program need some changes moving forward to make the program more successful for kids.

Olsen emphasized that Wisconsin demographics have changed with regards to students, noting the increased number of students on free and reduced lunches. Olsen also pointed to declining enrollment in a lot of school districts saying it is hard for the schools to meet the requirements for the SAGE program. Olsen said he is not entering the committee with preconceived notions, but expects that the committee will look at all parts of the program and if changes need to be made make recommendations, but if changes are not necessary recommend no changes.

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Oklahoma Just Dumped the Common Core . . .

By John Forester | June 9, 2014

. . . and it could cost the state millions, just like dumping the Common Core in Indiana is costing that state millions of dollars!!  Read the article from The Huffington Post here.

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DPI Seeks Viewpoint on Fund 80

By John Forester | June 3, 2014

Since Senate Bill 478 (Fund 80) was signed into law by Governor Walker as 2013 Wisconsin Act 306, SAA members have expressed concern about the requirement that DPI create administrative rules defining eligible/ineligible expenditures from the Community Programs and Services Fund (Fund 80).  SAA members have openly wondered how the viewpoint of school administrators in the field could be heard on the issue of defining eligible/ineligible Fund 80 expenditures.

Well, I am writing to remind you that DPI is seeking your viewpoint.  You see, under s. 227.13, Wis. Stats., the Department of Public Instruction may use informal conferences and consultations to obtain the viewpoint and advice of interested persons with respect to contemplated rule making.  Last month the DPI School Financial Services (SFS) Team, in School Finance Bulletin #551, asked for your viewpoint and advice regarding 2013 Act 306, summarized below:

2013 ACT 306 – Community Programs and Services Fund (Fund 80)

Please send the SFS Team your viewpoints and advice regarding your district’s community programs and services (Fund 80) and 2013 Act 306 to the following mailbox:  dpifund80@dpi.wi.gov.

Please take advantage of this opportunity to share your viewpoint.  Thanks for listening and, as always, thank you for all your efforts on behalf of Wisconsin school children.

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Boardman & Clark Analyzes Repeal of 180 Day Requirement

By John Forester | June 2, 2014

The Boardman & Clark law firm recently posted an analysis of 2013 Wisconsin Act 257 which, among other things, repealed the 180 day attendance requirement.  You might recall that the SAA strongly supported this legislation.  The SAA believes this is valuable information for SAA members.  We regularly receive these updates and have chosen to distribute this information to the SAA membership with the permission of the Boardman & Clark law firm.

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Wisconsin Rated a Leader in School Accountability Report

By John Forester | May 29, 2014

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) announced today that Wisconsin’s school and school district report cards were ranked in the top six in the nation by parents for their ease of reading and usefulness in a recent report by the Education Commission of the States. Additionally, that report put the state in the top nine for overall public school accountability systems.

For more information, see DPI News Release here.

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