Daily Archives: February 2, 2017

Advocates largely praise Walker’s rural schools plan


Gov. Scott Walker announced plans to pump more money into rural schools as he begins to roll out key parts of the two-year state budget plan he’ll unveil next week.

The rural schools initiative would amount to about $66.5 million in additional funding in the upcoming budget.

Walker laid out the initiative at three stops across the state Wednesday, pledging an increased broadband investment, more transportation aid to rural school districts and full funding of many Department of Public Instruction budget request items targeted to help rural schools.

That comes on top of the “significant investment” he says he’ll make for all public schools.

“Our reforms are working in Wisconsin, and it’s because they are working that we are able to make greater investments into our education system. I call it the ‘reform dividend.'” Walker said. “This increase in funding will provide greater stability for our rural school districts.”

Rural schools advocates, including the Wisconsin Association of School Boards and legislators, largely praised the guv’s announcement.

Rep. Romaine Quinn, R-Rice Lake, who helped create the Rural Wisconsin Initiative last session, called the guv’s announcement a “step in the right direction,” praising Walker for “bringing attention to the concerns of our local schools.”

And Assembly education committee vice-chair Rep. Joel Kitchens, R-Sturgeon Bay, said Walker’s proposal shows a “commitment to support Wisconsin’s rural schools.”

Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance Executive Director Kim Kaukl had a more measured reaction. While he said Walker’s announcement was a “step in the right direction,” especially regarding the broadband funding that can also be used to establish infrastructure, he added some additional requests regarding sparsity aid apparently went unfulfilled.

And others, including Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, criticized Walker and the GOP for cutting state funding for public schools in past budgets.

“We need to restore the $1 billion in state aid that has been cut from our schools and put an end to Gov. Walker’s tax breaks that benefit millionaires and companies that outsource Wisconsin jobs,” she said.

State Superintendent Tony Evers, up for re-election this spring, commended Walker’s proposal, saying it would provide “much-needed resources to our rural schools.”

But he added more needs to be done to help address teacher shortages across rural school districts. That includes a measure to equalize funding among rural and wealthier school districts, which Evers submitted in his budget request.

The two candidates running against Evers in the February primary praised Walker’s proposal.

Lowell Holtz, the former superintendent of the Whitnall and Beloit school districts, said he appreciates Walker’s “understanding of, and his commitment to, the needs of Wisconsin’s rural school children.”

John Humphries, a former Dodgeville School District and DPI official, applauded Walker’s “commitment to ensuring children in rural areas have access to the resources they need.”

The primary is set for Feb. 21.

Borowski campaign: Borowski kicks off general election campaign with first online video

Contact: 262-501- 4358

Kohler – Today Sheboygan County Circuit Court Judge Dan Borowski released his first online video in his bid to secure a full six-year term to the Sheboygan Circuit Court. While he does not have an opponent, he plans on spending the next nine weeks discussing his judicial vision with the voters of Sheboygan County. Judge Borowski issued the following statement this morning:

I was honored and humbled to be appointed a Sheboygan Circuit Court judge by Governor Walker last year. And I’m thrilled to have secured my place on the April 4th ballot. When not hearing cases, I plan on travelling throughout the County to discuss my judicial vision.

Among others things, I look forward to discussing the importance of the rule of law, respect for all who appear in front of me, and the need for judicial officers to explore new ways of doing business. The court system should not be immune to cost saving and efficiency inducing measures.

Thank you to everyone who helped secure my place on the ballot. I look forward to discussing my vision with Sheboygan County voters and Lord-willing, to working tirelessly over the next six years on the bench.

Evers campaign: Despite previously supporting and testifying in favor of the Common Core, today John P. Humphries rolled out his plan to replace it


Contact: Amanda L. Brink, [email protected]

Madison — In a livestreamed press conference this morning, Humphries stated he will devise a two year process and bring in national and state experts to develop new Wisconsin standards. Common Core has been adopted at the local level by over 400 school districts in Wisconsin, and this top-down approach would undermine that.

Below is a statement from Campaign Manager, Amanda Brink.

“While John Humphries was rolling out his latest proposal to privatize public education and bring in national experts, Tony Evers was leading a national press conference in partnership with the Aspen Institute and Council of Chief State School Officers on how to increase educational equity and close achievement gaps by working at the local level. Tony Evers has spent the last year working with his colleagues to ensure every kid gets the public education they deserve.

This work is a year in the making, and John Humphries is simply behind the curve.”

Gov. Walker: Appoints Daniel Zimmerman to serve as Department of Veterans Affairs secretary


Contact: Tom Evenson, (608) 266-2839

Madison – Governor Scott Walker today announced his appointment of Daniel Zimmerman to serve as the secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA). Mr. Zimmerman is a retired lieutenant colonel and military intelligence officer with 25 years of service in the United States Army. Governor Walker’s appointment of Mr. Zimmerman is effective immediately.

“Dan’s career is defined by public service,” Governor Walker said. “Wisconsin’s veterans deserve the best care and services possible, and with Dan’s experience in the military and government, I know he will serve as a tireless advocate for Wisconsin’s veterans.”

Governor Walker is directing Mr. Zimmerman to immediately conduct a thorough assessment of the operations at Wisconsin’s veterans homes and to schedule regular discussions with the County Veterans Service Officer Association and veterans service organizations.

“We serve some of our most vulnerable veterans at our veterans’ homes, and I expect nothing short of the best when it comes to the care of these patriots,” Governor Walker continued. “Improving communication between the WDVA and veterans service organizations and officers will also be a priority for Dan.”

Mr. Zimmerman is a decorated combat veteran, having received the Bronze Star Medal twice and the Meritorious Service Medal five times. He holds a master’s degree in Homeland Security from American Military University in Charles Town, West Virginia, and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.

“‘Serving those who have served’ will be our guiding principle at WDVA. It will be engrained in every action we take,” Mr. Zimmerman said. “I thank Governor Walker for trusting me to lead the department. I’m ready to get to work.”

Since his retirement from the active Army in 2008, Mr. Zimmerman has worked as a training consultant for U.S. National Guard Bureau and as an exercise officer and threat planner at Wisconsin Emergency Management, Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs. He is also the vice president of the Ripon Area School District Board of Education, chairman of Big Hills Lake Management District, and serves as president of two non-profit charitable organizations. He resides in Ripon with his wife and four children.

Gov. Walker: Weekly radio address: More support for Wisconsin’s rural schools


Contact: Tom Evenson, (608) 266-2839

Madison – Governor Scott Walker released his Weekly Radio Address today titled “More Support for Wisconsin’s Rural Schools.”

Hi, Scott Walker here.

It is a moral imperative that every child have access to a great education. But it’s also an economic imperative as we need to grow the workforce here in Wisconsin. With this in mind, we announced that our next state budget will include a significant increase in funding for all of our K-12 public schools.

Across the state, our students are doing well. We just started including everyone in the ACT tests and Wisconsin is one of the best states in the country in that category. Students here also have some of the best graduation rates in the nation. On top of that, more than 90 percent of the school districts in the state meet or exceed expectations according to the report cards.

This week I traveled to school districts in Wauzeka, Hilbert, and Crandon to announce an increase in state funding specifically for Wisconsin’s rural schools.

Wisconsin’s rural schools face unique challenges, such as high transportation costs, lack of dependable access to broadband, and declining enrollment. But we don’t want these challenges to affect the quality of our children’s education.

To address these hurdles directly, our proposal includes greater funding for sparsity and transportation aids, increased investment in broadband and technology grants, and greater opportunity to recruit and retain teachers.

Providing greater state support for K-12 education is one of my top priorities, and we will continue to focus on strengthening public schools throughout the state so our future leaders have the knowledge and practical skills they’ll need to move Wisconsin forward.

Holtz campaign: Outlines plan to immediately eliminate Common Core in Wisconsin


Contact: Brit Schiel
[email protected]

(Beloit, WI) – Dr. Lowell Holtz, candidate for Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction, announced today his plan to completely eliminate Common Core from Wisconsin’s education curriculum. His plan is designed to be implemented immediately, and does not require time or bureaucratic posturing to implement.

“Originally, Common Core was marketed across America as a Corvette, and what we received was a manure spreader,” said Holtz. “Governors, legislators, educators and citizens all across the country were misled through high pressure marketing of the Common Core standards. We were promised one thing and given another.

As a school superintendent, I saw firsthand how former-President Obama’s administration sought to implement a one-size-fits-all, top-down curriculum scheme that increased government bureaucracy and heightened the risk of politicized curriculum decisions, instead of improving student performance.

The state exam based on Common Core standards really did not give us a clear picture of how our kids were competing academically, so as superintendent, I wrote a grant so my students could take the international PISA-OECD test. I wanted them to be able to compete not only on a local level, but an international level as well.

The current Forward exam is based on the Common Core. This forces district administrators, who want their students to do well on the test, to align their curriculum with Common Core standards. By working with the Governor and legislators, Common Core can be eliminated immediately. If we truly believe it is bad for our kids, we can’t afford to wait any longer.

This would require changing the current Forward exam, which DPI administers to our students, and giving our teachers and parents a different test to use. This can be done with little or no additional cost to our taxpayers. While such a decision might lead to some break-up fees, regaining local control of curriculum decisions should outweigh that cost. Changing to a prescriptive test, such as the MAP test, returns control for curriculum development to the district level, while at the same time providing our teachers with timely information about how their students are learning.

As Superintendent of Public Instruction, I will expect higher performance goals from our schools, while at the same time fight to keep control of our schools in the hands of our families, teachers, students and local communities,” he concluded.

Humphries campaign: Humphries calls for stronger standards to replace Common Core


Contact: Brian Schupper, 414.248.3072
[email protected]com

[Green Bay, Wis.] – Today, the John Humphries for State Superintendent of Public Instruction campaign released a comprehensive 2-year plan to replace Common Core with more rigorous standards for Wisconsin.

As Superintendent, Humphries will leverage the expertise of Wisconsin educators, experts, and parents through multiple rounds of public hearings to ensure parents, and the public, have a complete say in any new standards for Wisconsin’s students. Once complete, the state can expect world-class standards to prepare every high school graduate for college or a career.

“In​ ​the​ ​years​ ​since the adoption of Common Core, good​ ​intentions​ ​have​​ ​given way​ ​to​ ​inadequate communication and poor implementation. Too​ ​many​ ​decisions​ ​have​ ​been taken​ ​away​ ​from​ ​parents​ ​and​ ​educators​ ​by​ ​state and​ ​federal​ ​politicians and too little attention has been paid to what children really need in order to learn,” said John Humphries, candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. “When I am superintendent, we will replace Tony Evers’ go-it-alone approach with meaningful decision-making handed back to local teachers, parents, and superintendents.  We will repeal Common Core and replace it with stronger standards developed locally that put Wisconsin children first.” 

John Humphries is a candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Over the past two decades, John has effectively served in public schools across the state, as well as in the Department of Public Instruction. In his nearly twenty years in Wisconsin education, he has worked in small rural school districts (La Farge and Dodgeville), one of the wealthiest (Middleton-Cross Plains), and the district with the highest poverty rate (Beloit).

For more information visit www.humphriesforschools.org

Local Initiatives Support Corporation: Crime Prevention Awards recognize outstanding efforts to improve safety


Contact: Anne Temple, Safe & Sound, 414-708-2794
Dawn Hutchison-Weiss, LISC, 414-930-1760, 608-215-3262

Law Enforcement Officers, Resident Leaders, Businesses, a Church, and a News Reporter are Among those Recognized

(Milwaukee-February 1, 2017) Wednesday February 1st, the 68th Annual Crime Prevention Awards were held at the Wisconsin Club to recognize private residents and law enforcement professionals who, through their special contributions to crime prevention, have made the greater Milwaukee area a better place to live and work.

The event was organized by LISC Milwaukee and Safe & Sound, two nonprofit organizations dedicated to safe and thriving neighborhoods in the Milwaukee area, in partnership with law enforcement agencies. Representing LISC Milwaukee, Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton, and Katie Sanders, Executive Director for Safe & Sound emceed the event, with additional presentations by Mayor Tom Barrett, and a blessing by Sister Patricia Rogers of the Dominican Center.

In opening remarks, Common Council President Hamilton said, “We want to shine a light on those who take the lead on public safety, whether as a profession or as a citizen or both. We want to ensure the great efforts won’t go overlooked and underappreciated.”

Award sponsors, AAA Wisconsin, Nick Jarmusz, and the Salvation Army, Major Tim Meyer, also presented awards. There were 300 guests which included many elected officials and high ranking law enforcement professionals and nonprofit leaders.

Safe & Sound, Executive Director, Katie Sanders said, “The Crime Prevention Awards is one of my favorite events because it recognizes incredible people doing important work, often with no fanfare. Today was no exception; the recipients honored this afternoon are models of true commitment to the community and should inspire all of us to do more in service of others.”

The following awards and honorees were recognized at the luncheon:

AAA Wisconsin Traffic Safety Award to a Community Member was presented to Cynthia Campbell. Campbell changed her tragedy into triumph after she lost her oldest son Christopher in a fatal car crash in 2006. She is the founder of Love from Afar, the Christopher Allen Williams Foundation and the Parents Against Distracted Driving.

Outstanding Community Liaison Officer awards were presented to District 6 Police Officers Carlos Felix and Joshua Dummann. These officers were recognized for their ability to build relationships and partnerships within the community through special events and programs including National Night Out, Mexican Independence Day, Milwaukee Public Schools, Project Pay Back nuisance abatement, and cleanup projects.

Outstanding Block Club was awarded to Protect Our Property, a group of residents who turned a burglary into an opportunity to organize neighbors and improve their neighborhood through a variety of projects resulting in increased safety.

Outstanding Professional Contribution was awarded to Captain Boris Turcinovic. The Captain set up weekly listening circles at Sherman Park for youth and residents. After hearing teens needed more activities, Captain Turcinovic secured soccer goals and along with other officers, he painted a field and organized a “Sports Week” with local organizations, and he continues to devote long hours due to his passion for the community.

Outstanding Civilian Contribution was awarded to Shannon Sims. Sims is reporter for WTMJ-4 has led many efforts aimed at deescalating auto theft and robberies young people, as well as creating an event called “The Power of Her” designed to cultivate self-esteem, health, wellness and safety for young women.

Outstanding Faith Based Organization was awarded to Crossway Church. Led by Marques Jones, the church has partnered with the Milwaukee Police Department District 4 and the neighborhood to initiate youth programs at the neighborhood playground, a back to school give-away providing 500 backpacks to Havenwood’s residents, and area home repairs.

Outstanding Professional Contribution was awarded to Police Officer Guadalupe Velasquez. Officer Velasquez was recognized for her kind and personal approach, and for respectful and professional intercommunication with the community. Her meticulous organization and management of cases are valued by her district teams and community alike.

Outstanding Contributions by a Business was awarded to Direct Supply. Direct Supply has shown their commitment through reducing crime by working to provide Milwaukee Police Department District 4 with resources and volunteers. They have also built very strong relationships with community partners like Havenwoods Economic Development Corporation and Teen Challenge.

AAA Wisconsin Traffic Safety Award to Law Enforcement was presented to Sergeant Carrie Peters. Sgt. Peters received a grant from the High-Visibility Enforcement Pedestrian Grant funded by the WI Bureau of Transportation Safety, on behalf of the Marquette University Police Department to improve campus safety. Her efforts included soliciting incentives from local businesses to encourage positive behavior, organizing media appearances to promote the project and participating as a “decoy” to assist in enforcement efforts.

The Ron Aebly Award of Excellence presented by Anti Vehicle Crime Association of Wisconsin was awarded to Officer Cullin Weiskopf. Officer Cullin Weiskopf played an essential role in the success of preventing vehicle theft in Milwaukee through the coordination of a highly successful anti-theft program.

Outstanding Greater Milwaukee Partnership was awarded to the Sojourner Family Peace Center. The Center is one of the first co-located child advocacy and family violence centers in the country opened at 619 W. Walnut Street in Milwaukee. The new Family Peace Center is one of the first in the nation to provide comprehensive services for victims and families impacted by domestic violence.

The Salvation Army Chaplaincy Program Outstanding Individual Involved in Crime Prevention presented by The Salvation Army Chaplaincy Program was awarded to Lynne Hines-Levy. As a Chaplain, Hines-Levy dedicates herself to improving the lives of residents in MPD District 7 by working with Community Liaison Officers and leading faith-based initiatives, as well as providing personal support and care for persons experiencing trauma and violence.

Crime Prevention Advocate Award was awarded to Mary Lou Navarro. For 20 years, Mary Lou Navarro has advocated for Longfellow’s 900 students and their families. She uses education and advocacy to help empower families by helping them connect to resources like block clubs, financial literacy, and human trafficking prevention.

EVENT PHOTOS AVAILABLE AT https://www.smugmug.com/gallery/n-ksW6sk/
Photo Credit: Jon D. Riemann

Lowell Holtz: Commemorating Black History Month


The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.

As we begin to celebrate Black History Month, I would like to reflect on Martin Luther King’s philosophy on campaigning for real change and his work seeking freedom for all people.

Having studied Martin Luther King’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail, I believe he would be appalled at the current superintendent’s lack of leadership and action in helping our neighbors who live in areas with failing schools. In his April 16, 1963, letter Dr. King wrote, “In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: (1) Collection of the facts to determine whether injustices are alive; (2) Negotiation; (3) Self-purification; and (4) Direct action” (p. 2). He proceed to write, “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed” (p.5).

Over the course of my run for Superintendent of Public Instruction, I have had the opportunity to talk with many people from our large urban areas. Unanimously, they indicated they did not want someone from Madison walking into their city to tell them how to fix their educational issues. We need to have honest conversations with the parents, community leaders, and educators to collect the facts about the challenges facing their neighborhoods and schools. My experience as an administrator in rural, urban, and suburban districts taught me that “one-size DOES NOT fit all” when it comes to improving educational performance. A prudent leader takes time to engage a community and learn what its members are experiencing – both positive and negative – before implanting change.

At a macro level, I have also spoken with many members of the state legislature about their ideas and priorities to improve educational opportunities for all of Wisconsin’s children. As your next superintendent, I vow to be an active partner with the legislature, working together with affected communities to collect the facts, to have open and honest dialog about the educational environment (self-purification) and how the community would like to proceed, and to finally develop and implement a successful plan, unique to each community. This process never happened with the Opportunity Schools Partnership Program, and the plan of another challenger is equally ill-advised with its top-down approach. In his letter, Martin Luther King, Jr., decried the “white moderate who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice,” and who “paternalistically feels that he can set the time-table for another man’s freedom” (p. 7). I believe in the talents of my neighbors, and our collective wisdom, far more than the genius of any central planner and his heavy hand.

Wresting control of community schools with big hammers and remote-control levers is rarely a wise answer. Under my leadership, support teams of experienced educators will be available for those who ask for guidance. School districts will be given access to the tools they need to take back the hallways and give teachers the time to do what they do best – teach – instead of filling out endless student reports.

Under my leadership, Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction will no longer operate under a culture of ‘power over.’ The culture will change to one of ‘power with’ – power with every concerned parent, teacher and administrator working together to bring about meaningful educational reform for our children. We will work together to name problems when they arise, take ownership and then fix them.

A transcript of Letter from the Birmingham Jail may be found at: < a href=”http://okra.stanford.edu/transcription/document_images/undecided/630416-019.pdf”>Link

— Holtz is a candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction of Wisconsin.

THU AM Update: Senate committees exec today on CBD oil, project labor agreements bills

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THU PM Update: GOP leadership seeks outside counsel for redistricting lawsuit; teacher licensing overhaul proposed

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February 3, 2017 | February 1, 2017
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