WPEN Summer Summit

By John Forester | July 23, 2018

The Wisconsin Public Education Network (WPEN), a project of the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools (WAES), is a nonpartisan coalition of parents, students, educators, school board members, administrators, community leaders and education policy experts united behind one objective — advocating for Wisconsin public schools.

WPEN is now taking registrations for its Fourth Annual Summer Summit, August 1st in Appleton, hosted by Appleton Area School District and Fox Cities Advocates for Public Education. Please forward this information to those board members, staff or parents in your district with an interest in advocating effectively on behalf of public school children and learning more about the challenges facing our public schools.

The agenda includes a full day of informational breakouts and strategy sessions led by education experts and advocacy team leaders, and plenary presentations from speakers who will inspire action and deeper conversations about the value of public education to our democracy and our communities. The Summit is an annual opportunity to connect with and learn from others from around the state who care deeply about our public schools, and to strategize on ways to take local action to ensure every child in every school has equal opportunity to succeed.

The theme of this year’s Summit is Vote Public, an invitation to make public education a focus of local elections, and to hold elected officials accountable for votes that support the best interests of our students and public schools. An afternoon workshop provides opportunities for people from various constituencies and various parts of the state to come together to find common ground nonpartisan advocacy and collaboration in our home communities. Our emphasis throughout the day will be on how we can work together to create local-level actions with state-level impact.

The agenda features over 30 breakouts on a wide range of topics impacting school funding, school climate, and student success. Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Tony Evers, will join us to kick off the event, and our plenary sessions include a conversation with Blue Ribbon Commission on School funding members co-chair Rep. Joel Kitchens and Dr. Julie Underwood, and a keynote presentation by Jitu Brown of Chicago’s Journey for Justice Alliance.

The Summit will take place at Appleton North High School from 8:00 am to 5:00pm, and will be followed by a dinner event at the Stone Arch at Riverview Gardens with special guest, Matt Rothschild of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. Registration for the Summit is $30 (includes lunch), and the dinner is an additional $30. Registration fee waivers are available for those for whom the cost is otherwise prohibitive, and those who wish to donate to this scholarship fund may do so at check-out. Those who wish to join the Network as Blue Ribbon Partners receive free admission to both the Summit and the dinner, as well as a free t-shirt at the event.

See the registration form for details and email hdb@WisconsinNetwork.org with any questions.

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

Employee Personnel Files and Public Records Requests

By John Forester | July 18, 2018

From the Legal Side . . .

In its most recent Legal Update, the Strang Patteson Law Firm reviews a recent Wisconsin Court of Appeals decision highlighting the application of Wisconsin’s Public Records Law to requests for employee personnel records, specifically records involving the investigation of a complaint against a public employee.

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

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

SAA Following the Work of Two Study Committees

By John Forester | July 12, 2018

The SAA is following two Legislative Council Study Committees as they meet over the next several months (the web page links below will allow you to follow the work of these important committees):

Legislative Council Study Committee on the Investment and Use of the School Trust Funds

Legislative Council Study Committee on the Identification and Management of Dyslexia

The Committee on Dyslexia held its first meeting on July 9th.  It’s next meeting will be held on August 29th in Room 411 South, State Capitol.  Michael Weber, Superintendent of the Port Washington – Saukville School District is a member of the Committee.

The Committee on School Trust Funds will hold its first meeting on August 16th in Room 411 South, State Capitol.

The SAA will keep the membership informed of any important developments from these study committees.

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SAA Member Jeff Wright Running for State Assembly

By John Forester | July 11, 2018

For the past 16+ years that I have served as the SAA’s lobbyist, SAA members have talked about the importance of school administrators getting elected to the Legislature.

Yet, during that time, we haven’t had many administrators step up to run.  In 2016, Jeff Wright, assistant superintendent for the Sauk Prairie Schools, ran a strong but unsuccessful campaign for the State Assembly.  Jeff is running again this year for the State Assembly (51st Assembly District) as a Democrat.  Jeff’s career as an educator began as a history, government and world affairs teacher.  He also served as a high school principal on the south side of Chicago.  I first connected with Jeff several years ago when he delivered extremely effective testimony on the state budget before the Joint Finance Committee.  He is a strong advocate for Wisconsin schools and Wisconsin school children.

Needless to say, the SAA is very excited about Jeff’s candidacy.  If you would like more information about his campaign, including information on making a campaign contribution, I have provided a link to Jeff’s campaign website below.

Jeff Wright for Assembly

Please note:  The State Elections Commission has advised that SAA members should access campaign donation pages from a personal computer and not on school servers.

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

School Law Update: Recent Matters of Interest

By John Forester | July 10, 2018

From the Legal Side . . .

In its most recent newsletter, Boardman Clark provides an update on a number of court decisions or other matters that have been in the news recently.

The SAA regularly receives these legal 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.

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

SAA Re-Issuing Priority Legislative Alert on PI 34 Rule

By John Forester | June 27, 2018

The SAA is re-issuing its Priority Legislative Alert on the Educator Licensure Rule Changes (PI 34).  The licensure flexibility that WASDA, WASBO, AWSA, WCASS and WASPA worked so hard to achieve in the PI 34 rule is in jeopardy.

The Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) held a public hearing last Thursday, June 7th on the stakeholder workgroup revisions to licensure.  The Committee called the hearing because of opposition from the Reading Council to Tier 1 licensees being able to teach without having passed the Foundations of Reading Test (FORT).  Following the hearing, the Committee decided to “hold” the rule and meet again on July 13th, at which time they will likely seek modifications to the rule.  These modifications could weaken the licensure flexibility afforded under the PI 34 revisions.

We urge all SAA members to take action nowPlease contact the members of JCRAR, in support of CR17-093, the PI 34 rule revision.

In your communication, please consider using the talking points listed below.  Also, it is critical that you share with JCRAR members the challenges that you face in hiring high-quality educators in this environment and that your district needs the flexibility afforded under CR 17-093.

Talking Points:

  1. Wisconsin school districts are facing growing school staffing issues including high turnover, fewer applicants for positions, and candidate shortages in a variety of disciplines. With fewer new teachers entering the profession, new approaches to educator recruitment and retention are critical to ensure all children have access to high-quality educators.
  2. The licensure flexibility afforded under CR17-093 is universally supported by school leaders in their effort to address the growing workforce challenges faced by Wisconsin school districts.
  3. We must also point out that districts are currently operating under these proposed rule changes as part of the current Emergency Rule. These proposals are already making a positive difference in meeting these workforce challenges in districts throughout Wisconsin.
  4. School administrators support all aspects of the proposed rule but, of particular importance are the flexibilities and candidate expanding aspects in the Tier 1 license. This will allow for a much-needed district sponsored pathway to licensure, immediate licensure for out of state candidates, licensing for speech and language pathologists with a Department of Safety and Professional Services license and licensing for individuals coming into a district on an internship or residency status.  These are effective, no-cost solutions to a significant workforce need in Wisconsin school districts.
  5. Educator licensure is simply a minimum requirement.  District leadership is responsible for hiring and developing successful educators, and ultimately determining educator quality based on actual teacher performance and student outcomes.
  6. Reducing the Tier 1 license flexibility in the rule has the potential to impact as many as 2,400 teaching licenses, many of which are FORT-related stipulations.  Any portion of these licensees that lose their ability to teach will exacerbate an already troubling workforce challenge and reduce educational opportunities for children.

For your convenience in contacting the JCRAR members, we have provided a link to the JCRAR webpage (which includes contact information for each committee member).  We have also provided direct email links to each committee member below.

Representative Ballweg (Co-Chair)

Senator Nass (Co-Chair)

Senator LeMahieu

Senator Stroebel

Senator Larson

Senator Wirch

Representative Neylon

Representative Ott

Representative Hebl

Representative Anderson

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.

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

Supreme Court Dismisses Wisconsin Redistricting Case

By John Forester | June 18, 2018

From WisPolitics.com …

The U.S. Supreme Court has dismissed the state’s redistricting case, sending it back to federal district court.

The decision, though, doesn’t address the broader issue of partisan gerrymandering, and the court noted providing a remedy to the issue doesn’t “necessarily require restructuring all of the State’s legislative districts.”

Today’s opinion comes after the court heard oral arguments in the case last October. Before that, a three-judge panel in 2016 had ruled the maps Republicans drew in 2011 amounted to an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.

Chief Justice John Roberts in the opinion wrote the court will return the case to the lower court for the plaintiffs in the case to provide “concrete and particularized” evidence that would show Wisconsin’s political lines affect their votes.

See the opinion here.

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

Priority Legislative Alert: Educator Licensure Rule Changes (PI 34)

By John Forester | June 14, 2018

The SAA is issuing a Priority Legislative Alert on the Educator Licensure Rule Changes (PI 34).  The licensure flexibility that WASDA, WASBO, AWSA, WCASS and WASPA worked so hard to achieve in the PI 34 rule is in jeopardy.

The Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) held a public hearing last Thursday, June 7th on the stakeholder workgroup revisions to licensure.  The Committee called the hearing because of opposition from the Reading Council to Tier 1 licensees being able to teach without having passed the Foundations of Reading Test (FORT).  Following the hearing, the Committee decided to “hold” the rule and meet again on July 13th, at which time they will likely seek modifications to the rule.  These modifications could weaken the licensure flexibility afforded under the PI 34 revisions.

We urge all SAA members to take action nowPlease contact the members of JCRAR, in support of CR17-093, the PI 34 rule revision.

In your communication, please consider using the talking points listed below.  Also, it is critical that you share with JCRAR members the challenges that you face in hiring high-quality educators in this environment and that your district needs the flexibility afforded under CR 17-093.

Talking Points:

  1. Wisconsin school districts are facing growing school staffing issues including high turnover, fewer applicants for positions, and candidate shortages in a variety of disciplines. With fewer new teachers entering the profession, new approaches to educator recruitment and retention are critical to ensure all children have access to high-quality educators.
  2. The licensure flexibility afforded under CR17-093 is universally supported by school leaders in their effort to address the growing workforce challenges faced by Wisconsin school districts.
  3. We must also point out that districts are currently operating under these proposed rule changes as part of the current Emergency Rule. These proposals are already making a positive difference in meeting these workforce challenges in districts throughout Wisconsin.
  4. School administrators support all aspects of the proposed rule but, of particular importance are the flexibilities and candidate expanding aspects in the Tier 1 license. This will allow for a much-needed district sponsored pathway to licensure, immediate licensure for out of state candidates, licensing for speech and language pathologists with a Department of Safety and Professional Services license and licensing for individuals coming into a district on an internship or residency status.  These are effective, no-cost solutions to a significant workforce need in Wisconsin school districts.
  5. Educator licensure is simply a minimum requirement.  District leadership is responsible for hiring and developing successful educators, and ultimately determining educator quality based on actual teacher performance and student outcomes.
  6. Reducing the Tier 1 license flexibility in the rule has the potential to impact as many as 2,400 teaching licenses, many of which are FORT-related stipulations.  Any portion of these licensees that lose their ability to teach will exacerbate an already troubling workforce challenge and reduce educational opportunities for children.

For your convenience in contacting the JCRAR members, we have provided a link to the JCRAR webpage (which includes contact information for each committee member).  We have also provided direct email links to each committee member below.

Representative Ballweg (Co-Chair)

Senator Nass (Co-Chair)

Senator LeMahieu

Senator Stroebel

Senator Larson

Senator Wirch

Representative Neylon

Representative Ott

Representative Hebl

Representative Anderson

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.

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

20 More School Districts Receive Safety Grants

By John Forester | June 14, 2018

From WisPolitics.com …

Attorney General Brad Schimel yesterday announced 20 school districts across the state are getting nearly $1.4 million in new school safety grant funding.

The news comes after Schimel earlier this month announced the state’s first recipient of a grant: Kenosha Unified School District, which is getting nearly $890,000 for building safety improvements and training.

The 20 newly announced districts are planning to use the grant funding for building improvements such as updated surveillance, camera and telephone/PA systems; improving district-wide notification systems; training a new safety coordinator; and reconfiguring an entryway by securing the door system, among other things.

The following districts received grants today: Barneveld School District, $38,949; Benton School District, $57,975; Big Foot Unified High School District, $13,975; Bristol #1 School District, $22,925; Crivitz School District, $20,000; Kettle Moraine School District, $190,395; Kewaskum School District, $106,347; La Farge School District, $53,352; Luck School District, $39,516; Mauston School District, $188,275; Prentice School District, $81,272; Randall J1 School District, $21,935; River Ridge School District, $55,000; Rock County Christian School, $39,951; St. Joseph School; $20,750; Stevens Point Area Public School District, $279,827; Trinity Evangelical Lutheran School, $18,334; Union Grove J1 School District, $19,872; Wautoma Area School District, $84,435; and Williams Bay School District, $28,960.

The grants were awarded under the newly created Office of School Safety. Under the $100 million grant system, there are two different categories schools can apply for: Primary School Safety Grants, for baseline improvements to schools such as door locks; and Advanced School Safety Grants, for schools that have already met minimum security thresholds.

Schools had until June 8 to submit their grant applications.

See the DOJ news release here.

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

Will U.S. Supreme Court Toss Out Wisconsin Redistricting Plan?

By John Forester | June 14, 2018

The U.S. Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of Wisconsin’s partisan redistricting plan could come as early as today.  Check out this news story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about what is at stake and what the possible outcomes may be.

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

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