Walker Signs SB 271 Into Law

By John Forester | April 9, 2014

Governor Walker signed Senate Bill 271, relating to privately-contracted special education substitute teachers and para-educators, into law yesterday as Wisconsin Act 255.

In recent years, increasing numbers of Wisconsin school districts have turned to contracting for substitute teacher and para-educator placements with private staffing services.  However, until now school districts could not receive state special education aid for the costs of contracting with a staffing service for special education substitutes.  Senate Bill 271, authored by Senator Olsen and Representative Kestell with the SAA’s strong support, solves this problem by explicitly authorizing school districts to contract with staffing services and makes the costs eligible for special education aid.  The provisions of this law become effective with aid paid in 2014-15 for expenditures made in the current school year.

Special thanks go to Senator Olsen and Representative Kestell for bringing the legislation forward and for allowing the SAA to participate in the bill development process.

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Walker Signs 180-day Bill Into Law

By John Forester | April 9, 2014

Governor Scott Walker signed Senate Bill 589, relating to the number of school days and hours of instruction held in a school year, into law yesterday as Wisconsin Act 257.

Act 257 eliminates the 180-day requirement and retains the minimum instructional time requirement. The new law also ensures that a school district employing a flexible year-round instructional calendar can receive state aid for pupils during both summer school and interim session classes. In this fashion, Act 257 removes a current law impediment (loss of summer school aid) to school districts exploring innovative year-round schooling.

The removal of the 180-day requirement became effective with the Governor’s signature, therefore the 180-day requirement ceases to exist.  Districts can use this new calendar flexibility for this school year.

The SAA strongly supported this legislation from its inception.  Special thanks to Senator Luther Olsen and Representative Steve Kestell for bringing this legislation forward and for allowing the SAA to participate in the bill development process.

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Newsweek: Telecom Giants Drag Their Feet on Broadband

By John Forester | April 3, 2014

After making a big, bold promise to wire every corner of America, the telecom giants are running away from their vow to provide nationwide broadband service by 2020. For almost 20 years, AT&T, Verizon and the other big players have collected hundreds of billions of dollars through rate increases and surcharges to finance that ambitious plan, but after wiring the high-density big cities, they now say it’s too expensive to connect the rest of the country. But they’d like to keep all that money they banked for the project.

See the full article here.

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Really? You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me! (Part Two)

By John Forester | April 3, 2014

The head-scratching situation coming from the 6th Congressional District Republican Caucus continues.  Danny Krueger, of the Columbia County Republican Party, has issued an “Open Letter to Senator Scott Fitzgerald” in which he urges Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald to remove Senator Olsen from his position as Chairman of the Senate Education Committee and appoint Olsen to a different committee.

What a brilliant suggestion!  Clearly, the Legislature’s foremost authority on education policy has no business chairing the Senate Education Committee.  What?

Even Mr. Krueger acknowledged that this situation “is no longer rational”, albeit for different reasons than I hold.  Nonetheless, I find it easy to take him at his word, literally.

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2014 School Referenda Results

By John Forester | April 3, 2014

The Wheeler Report has granted permission for the SAA to post its report detailing school referenda results from January, February and April 2014.  See the report here.

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Senator Schultz Gives His Farewell Address

By John Forester | April 3, 2014

On Tuesday, Senator Dale Schultz gave his farewell address to the Wisconsin Senate.  See the video of his speech here.

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Kestell Will Not Seek Re-Election

By John Forester | April 2, 2014

Representative Steve Kestell (R-Elkhart Lake), Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Education and one of the foremost authorities on education issues in the Legislature, announced Tuesday that he will not seek election to a ninth term in the Assembly.

The SAA has worked with Chairman Kestell for many years.  And, while we didn’t always agree on education policy issues, we did understand and appreciate that he painstakingly weighed the evidence and made his decisions based on what he thought was the right thing to do for the children and the taxpayers of Wisconsin.  That type of reasoned, deliberate approach will be sorely missed in the Assembly.

Steve Kestell is a great friend of public education.  We will miss him.

See Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story here.

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High Stakes Referendums in Rural Districts

By John Forester | March 31, 2014

Dozens of cash-strapped school districts are asking taxpayers to raise property taxes to support educational opportunities for children.  This news story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also comments on the work of the Speaker’s Task Force on Rural Schools.

See Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story here.

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Really? You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me!

By John Forester | March 25, 2014

From time to time in the 25 years I have spent in and around state government, something has taken place that leaves you scratching your head and mumbling, “Oh my God!  You’ve got to be kidding me!”

Such is the case with a head-scratcher that took place this past weekend.  It seems the 6th Congressional District Republican Caucus felt the need to pass a resolution of “non-support” and “no confidence” in Senator Luther Olsen and Representative Steve Kestell.

Really.  And, I’m not kidding you.  The resolution appears below.

2014 –Resolution of non-support and no-confidence for Sen. Luther Olsen and Rep. Steve Kestell

WHEREAS the Republican Party of Wisconsin adopted a resolution calling for the rejection of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) at the 2013 state convention, for numerous reasons listed therein and

WHEREAS the Republican National Committee at its 2013 spring meeting adopted a resolution rejecting the Common Core State Standards for all the reasons stated therein and

WHEREAS Common Core State Standards are nothing more than a continuation of the past failed programs of the Federal Department of Education and the Wisconsin State Department of Public Instruction that sought to indoctrinate students instead of educating them and

WHEREAS State Senator Luther Olsen obviously has and continues to act as a biased champion for CCSS in Wisconsin and has failed to withdraw his involvement in educational matters in which he has a conflict of interest as between his and his wife’s interests and that of taxpayers and constituents

WHEREAS Senator Olsen and Rep. Kestell have remained manipulative, misleading and unaccountable in their dealings with Wisconsin citizens, even with their own constituents who have repeatedly voiced their wishes and been ignored by Senator Olsen, Rep. Kestell and their office staffs alike and

WHEREAS Senator Olsen and Rep. Kestell appear to have personal and independent motives in their promotion of Common Core State Standards which do NOT reflect the views of the members of the Republican Party of the 6th District, the Republican Party of the State of Wisconsin, and the Republican National Committee and

WHEREAS Senator Olsen and Rep. Kestell do NOT seem to have the ability, inclination or commitment to represent the views and positions of their constituents regarding education issues in the 6th District, the State of Wisconsin and the Republican National Committee;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Senator Olsen and Rep. Kestell resign their positions as state chairs of the education committee and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Republican 6th Congressional District of Wisconsin, in caucus assembled, assign Senator Olsen and Rep. Kestell a vote of no-confidence and a declaration of non-support and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this resolution be delivered to ALL Wisconsin Republican legislators and the Governor before April 1st, 2014.

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What School Bills Did, and Didn’t, Pass?

By John Forester | March 24, 2014

Erin Richards of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel penned an interesting article this weekend in which she takes a look at what happened to the major education bills before the legislature this legislative session.

See Journal Sentinel Story here.

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update | No Comments »

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