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Bipartisan group of US senators reaches agreement on framework for school safety legislation

A bipartisan group of 20 U.S. senators led by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) announced yesterday (6/12) they have reached agreement on what they called “a commonsense proposal” to curb gun violence and increase school safety.  

The nine-point proposal would invest billions of federal dollars in enhanced children and family mental health services, fund school-based mental health services, and fund new safety measures at schools.  The bipartisan plan would also spend federal resources to encorage states to pass and implement so-called “red flag” laws that aim to keep guns out of the hands of people deemed dangerous to the community, strengthen criminal background check requirements for gun buyers younger than 21, and strengthen penalties for illegal “straw purchases” by convicted criminals. (more…)

Federal guidance on using COVID relief funds to prevent and respond to crime and promote public safety

In the wake of the tragic school shootings in Uvalde, Texas, some school leaders have asked whether federal COVID relief funds may be used for school safety purposes.

We are reminded that the U.S. Department of Education previously published this guidance about how ESSER III funds may be used to prevent and respond to crime and promote public safety.  School leaders may want to give this guidance a fresh look. (more…)

Wisconsin’s ESSER III Plan receives final approval from U.S. Education Department

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received confirmation this morning that the U.S. Department of Education (USED) has granted final approval of Wisconsin’s ESSER III plan. ESSER III refers to federal COVID relief funding that was allocated to K-12 education under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), passed by Congress in March 2021.  States were required by the APRA to submit plans for how they would spend this funding and get those plans approved by the USED.

Much of the state’s plan was approved by the USED in December 2021; however, the USED deemed a portion of the plan not to comply with provisions in the ARPA requiring funds to be used to address both the academic impact of lost instructional time during the pandemic and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on certain subgroups of students. The state submitted a revised plan in early February addressing the USED’s objections and that plan was finally approved this week. (more…)

Wis. Supreme Court adopts GOP-drawn legislative maps

In what is likely to be the final court chapter in the current legislative redistricting saga, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has sided with the state’s GOP Legislature over the state’s Democratic governor on the question of what legislative boundaries will be in place for this fall’s election.

In a 4-3 decision handed down on Friday (April 15), Wisconsin’s high Court adopted legislative maps submitted by the Republican-led state Legislature that it had earlier rejected in favor of maps submitted by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. (more…)

U.S. Education Secretary calls for using ARPA funds to address teacher supply

In a speech last week, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona called on education stakeholders to make use of funding provided by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to address persistent and widespread teacher shortages.

Cardona urged states, postsecondary leaders, districts, and schools to consider establishing evidence-based teacher residency programs, creating registered apprenticeship programs for the teaching profession, and increasing teacher compensation along with a slew of other proposals. (more…)

U.S. Supreme Court reverses decision setting Wisconsin legislative district lines, sends case back to Wis. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court today (3/23) summarily reversed the decision of the Wisconsin State Supreme Court handed down earlier this month which adopted legislative redistricting maps submitted by Governor Evers. In a somewhat technical decision, the U.S. high court sided with arguments raised by state Republicans and remanded the case back to the Wisconsin Supreme Court for further proceedings not inconsistent with its order. 

This means legislative district boundaries for districts on the November 2022 ballot remain unsettled at this time, even though state statutes provide that nomination papers for those offices may be circulated as soon as April 15.  However, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s adoption of Congressional maps submitted by Governor Evers, so district lines for those races appear to be set, barring any further developments. (more…)