By John Forester | February 4, 2015
The SAA has issued a news release on Governor Walker’s 2015-17 state budget proposal.
See the release here.
By John Forester | February 4, 2015
The SAA is continuing to analyze the Governor’s 2015-17 biennial state budget plan. For your information we are providing links to the Budget in Brief as well as the Executive Budget document. We are also linking newspaper coverage as well. Stay tuned. More to come.
By John Forester | February 2, 2015
Numerous commentators are quoted in Matt DeFour’s Wisconsin State Journal news article essentially agreeing that Wisconsin’s difficult budget was a “self-inflicted wound.”
By John Forester | January 29, 2015
Here is an interesting op-ed piece written by Zachary Herrnstadt and printed in The Country Today, Eau Claire.
Herrnstadt is a government relations associate for the Wisconsin Farmers Union, a member-driven organization committed to enhancing the quality of life for family farmers, rural communities and all citizens through educational opportunities, cooperative endeavors and civic engagement.
By John Forester | January 29, 2015
After spending all day yesterday in the Capitol meeting with 10 legislators, I wanted to briefly catch up with the SAA membership on the Senate Bill 1 (school accountability) public hearing held on Tuesday before the Senate Committee on Education Reform.
In my admittedly biased opinion, the outstanding testimony delivered in support of SB 1 by SAA members clearly dominated the proceedings — a fact that unfortunately was not reflected in the news coverage of the event. Hats off to those SAA members who made the commitment to sit through a long hearing to testify. Those members testifying included (please forgive me if my memory fails and I omit someone): Jeff Jacobson and John Humphries, Dodgeville; Aaron Sadoff, North Fond du Lac; Bruce Quinton, Pepin; JoAnn Sternke, Pewaukee; Pat DeKlotz, Kettle Moraine; Dean Gorrell, Verona; Darienne Driver, Milwaukee; and Michelle Langenfeld, DeAnn Lehman and Mark Flaten, Green Bay.
I also greatly appreciate all member efforts to contact your legislators in support of the SAA position on SB 1. Our position came through loud and clear. I will keep the membership updated on future developments on this important issue.
By John Forester | January 27, 2015
The SAA testified today before the Senate Committee on Education Reform and Government Relations.
See testimony here.
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.
- Keep the single, common assessment. Common sense suggests that all schools receiving taxpayer dollars should use the same assessment for accountability purposes. Multiple assessments are certain to reduce validity, transparency and reliability when comparing the performance of different schools. Multiple tests will likely lead to greater confusion for parents and other stakeholders. Trust in the accountability system is a must.
- No grades. Stay with the performance categories established by the state’s Accountability Design Team, and resist the political pressure to replace them with politically charged A-F letter grades. Evidence has clearly shown that grades are an insufficient way to evaluate the academic performance of children. By extension, if the objective of the school report card is to increase the public’s understanding of how schools are performing, then grades are an inadequate means of meeting that objective as well.
- No sanctions. We are pleased that SB 1 rejects punishment, sanctions and conversion of low-performing schools to privately-run charter schools. Research suggests that a more effective path of improvement would be focusing on evidence-based interventions and supports to help low-performing schools raise their achievement levels.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Technical College Tuition Freeze. Applies to those pursuing training in high-need occupations.
- Technical College Performance Funding. Increased to 100% of state aid.
- Financial Aid. Maintains higher education financial aid and increases funds for technical education scholarships for high school graduates who excel in career and technical education courses.
- Transform Milwaukee Jobs Program. Invests $5 million annually, and extends to high need rural areas of the state, including Racine and Kenosha, at $3 million over the biennium.
- Wisconsin Fast Forward. Continues investments at $7.5 million annually, as well as maintaining increased funding for apprenticeships and to help people with disabilities who want to transition to the workforce.
- Career Planning. Continues funding for academic and career planning for schools.
- Wisconsin Works. Reduces time spent on Wisconsin Works from 60 months to 48 months.
- Teacher Licensure. Creates alternative pathways to allow a candidate with real life experience to pass a competency test to gain a teacher licensure.
- Veterans Employment. Consolidates initiatives in the veterans’ agency to improve focus, waives CDL fees for veterans, adds credits for prior learning for veterans with military training to the performance measures used to aid technical colleges.
- Victory Spark Program. Invests $500,000 to maintain program, a business accelerator for veterans.
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.