Advocate For School Start Date Repeal

By John Forester | January 16, 2017

As you know, repeal of the school start date is a high priority on the SAA’s 2017-19 Legislative Agenda.  I am advocating for repeal in every meeting I have with legislators and staff inside the Capitol.  I know that many SAA members are actively advocating for start date repeal with their legislators as well.  If you have not yet done so, please consider doing so soon.  How?

You can encourage your school board to adopt a resolution and forward it to Governor Walker and your legislators.  You could also forward a letter to policy makers detailing your districts arguments in favor of repeal.  Finally, you could take Northland Pines Superintendent Mike Richie’s lead and seek a letter of support from your chamber of commerce.

I have linked examples of these materials below.  Please forward your letters and resolutions to the SAA.  I will post them to encourage other SAA members to advocate for repeal as well.

Northland Pines Resolution And Chamber Letters

Pecatonica Resolution

Peshtigo Arguments For Repeal

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State Superintendent Candidates Meet in First Forum

By John Forester | January 16, 2017

Check out the Wisconsin State Journal coverage of the first forum for state superintendent candidates.

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School Law Newsletter: Open Enrollment Updates

By John Forester | January 16, 2017

From the Legal Side…

The Boardman & Clark law firm recently published this School Law Newsletter entitled “Open Enrollment Updates”.

The start of the open enrollment application period is just around the corner; parents will be allowed to submit applications beginning on February 6, 2017.

The SAA regularly receives these updates and we believe this is valuable information for SAA members.  We are distributing this update to SAA members with the permission of Boardman & Clark.

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SAA Joins Amicus in Appleton School District Case

By John Forester | January 13, 2017

Check out this news story about a Supreme Court case involving the Appleton School District that is extremely important to all Wisconsin school districts and other local units of government.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in an open meetings law dispute regarding sessions held by a committee in the Appleton Area School District, the court announced this week.  Arguments will be heard on February 17th in Madison.

All five SAA member associations (WASDA, WASBO, AWSA, WCASS, WASPA) have joined the Wisconsin Counties Association, the League of Wisconsin Municipalities and the Wisconsin Association of School Boards in an amicus brief supporting the position of the Appleton School District.

 

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Rules Hearing Scheduled on License Flexibility

By John Forester | January 13, 2017

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction will conduct a hearing from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Jan. 30 to accept public testimony on proposed permanent rules that add flexibility to educator licensing to help public school districts meet staffing shortages. The Jan. 30 hearing will be held at the DPI’s headquarters, GEF 3, Room P41, 125 South Webster Street, Madison.

Additional information is available in the DPI news release here.

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New Report: Wisconsin Teacher Shortage

By John Forester | January 13, 2017

The Wisconsin Budget Project released a new report yesterday showing that Wisconsin is investing fewer resources in education than it did a decade ago, and school districts are struggling to hire enough well-qualified teachers to educate Wisconsin students.

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State Superintendent Race Heats Up

By John Forester | January 13, 2017

From WisPolitics.com …

— State superintendent candidate John Humphries today called for a state education board that would boost oversight of the state’s top education official.

Humphries said the current superintendent, Tony Evers, is “out of ideas and out of excuses for our state’s stagnant performance.” The board, he said, is aimed at getting new ideas from parents, students and educators, which he said Evers doesn’t do enough.

“Wisconsin children deserve better than the same failed leadership and lack of accountability they’ve had with Tony Evers at DPI for 16 years,” he said. “It’s time for a new direction. It’s time for genuine accountability for educational results in Wisconsin.”

Humphries, a former Dodgeville School District official, is challenging incumbent Tony Evers, along with former Whitnall School District superintendent Lowell Holtz. The Feb. 21 primary will decide which two candidates will make it to the April 4 general election.

Humphries’ proposed Education Accountability Board would, among other things, have the final say over the Department of Public Instruction’s administrative rulemaking and audit DPI’s accountability measures to “ensure DPI is effectively using, but not abusing, its authority to help low-performing schools and teacher preparation programs improve.”

The board, whose president would be a guv appointee, would have nine members who would serve three-year terms. Those members would be appointed by lawmakers from both parties and would serve no more than two terms. The majority of the board would be students, parents and educators.

See Humphries’ statement here.

— The two other candidates said Humphries’ proposal amounted to more bureaucracy.

“We don’t need more bureaucracy or more centralized control,” said Evers’ campaign manager Amanda Brink.

“The state legislature passes education laws, while the State Superintendent is directly accountable to the citizens,” Brink said. “Our Founders debated this at length when writing our Constitution, and they wisely created an independent State Superintendent for a reason.”

Brink also defended Evers, saying he “convenes and participates in dozens of advisory councils across our state.” Input gathered there, she said, help shape DPI policies.

Holtz echoed Brink’s criticism, saying Humphries’ proposal adds “another layer of bureaucracy.”

“Expanding government feels good to some, but the reality is it would give more power to bureaucrats in Madison and not to the school districts and parents where it belongs,” he said. “I believe in local control. Unelected appointees usurping power from Wisconsin’s elected school boards is simply counter-productive to real school reform.”

Read Evers’ statement here.

— Rick Melcher, who failed to get enough signatures to get on the primary ballot for state schools superintendent, has registered with the Elections Commission as a write-in candidate.

Melcher, a high school math teacher in Racine, said he had “a little trouble” getting enough people to help him gather signatures, especially during the holiday season.

He said DPI has been “backed into a corner” by Republican lawmakers and that the agency needs to be more proactive in working with school districts to ensure the Legislature meets their priorities.

“It’s time for the defense to get off the field,” he said. “It’s time to play offense.”

Melcher said his “best shot at getting anyone to notice” him would be through social media and appearing at local forums.

“The realist in me goes, ‘That’s going to be a really tough hill to climb,’ but on the other hand, I really think given the mood of the country and how frustrated everybody is and how they’re tired of being ignored, I think they’re really looking for a change,” Melcher said.

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State Superintendent Candidate Survey Responses

By John Forester | January 12, 2017

As you know on December 22, 2016, the SAA asked the candidates for State Superintendent to respond in writing to several questions on current education issues impacting Wisconsin public schools and public school children.

We have received responses from State Superintendent Tony Evers and John Humphries.  Lowell Holtz did not provide responses to the questions but has offered a statement that we are posting for SAA members.

The candidate responses appear below:

Tony Evers

John Humphries

Lowell Holtz

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Wisconsin Receives $2 Million Grant

By John Forester | January 12, 2017

A $2 million New Skills for Youth grant announced yesterday at a press conference in Beaver Dam will strengthen and expand career-education opportunities for Wisconsin students. The state is one of 10 grant recipients announced by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and JPMorgan Chase.

Additional information is available in the DPI news release here.

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Governor Gives State of the State Address

By John Forester | January 10, 2017

From The Wheeler Report . . .

Governor Walker gave his annual State of the State today to a joint session of the legislature. Governor Walker highlighted steps his administration has taken in developing Wisconsin’s workforce, tax relief, K-12 education, college affordability, technical college investment, and Wisconsin infrastructure.

Walker emphasized his administration’s role in tuition freezes, and encouraged students and families to visit LookForwardWI.gov to learn more about refinancing options for student loans. In addition, Walker said his 2017-19 state budget “will actually cut tuition for all Wisconsin undergraduates throughout the UW System.”

Walker called for an investment of $35.5 million more to expand the broadband access grant program and to help upgrade technology and train teachers from rural areas. Walker called on the legislature to pass his broadband proposal quickly.  Walker also renewed his stance to maintain roads without a gas tax increase or an increase in vehicle registration fees.

Speech.

Excerpts from Speech.

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