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Interview with Sen. Chris Larson, Senate education committee ranking member

Interview with Sen. Chris Larson, Senate education committee ranking member

Recently, I conducted a brief interview with Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Education, to get his thoughts on the governor’s budget proposal for schools and other legislation. This is the latest in a series of interviews I will be conducting with key state lawmakers to provide legislative insight on the state budget. We thank Sen. Larson for taking the time to join us!

Sen. Larson told me that Gov. Evers’s K-12 budget is a realistic and moderate proposal and is optimistic about the potential of bipartisan agreement during the budget process. That being said, he doesn’t see much chance of his GOP colleagues agreeing to freezing vouchers, voucher accountability measures, or the grant program to replace race-based mascots as proposed by the governor. 

You can watch the full interview below: (more…)

Interview with Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, Assembly education committee chair

Interview with Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, Assembly education committee chair

Earlier this week I conducted a brief interview with Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Education, to get his thoughts on the governor’s budget proposal for schools and a couple other K-12 bills he has authored this session. Key takeaways include the impact that federal COVID relief funding will have on the willingness of legislators to agree to state funding increases for schools and the high level of interest in providing funding based on in-person instruction.

You can watch the full conversation below: (more…)

Governor signs bill providing COVID liability protections for schools into law

Governor Evers signed January 2021 Special Session Senate Bill 1 into law this morning (2/25) as 2021 Wisconsin Act 4.  This new law would, among other things, provide businesses, schools and governments with liability protections from COVID-related lawsuits, waive a one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits through mid-March and begin the long overdue process of overhauling the state’s 50-year-old Unemployment Insurance computer system.

The governor’s action came after the state Assembly gave unanimously (89-0) approval to the bill earlier this week. The state Senate last week approved the bill by a 27-3 margin. (more…)

Feds to offer waivers from ESEA accountability requirements but not from assessments

Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) sent a letter to the chief state school officers “inviting states to request a waiver for the 2020-2021 school year of the accountability and school identification requirements in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).  A state receiving this waiver would not be required to implement and report the results of its accountability system, including calculating progress toward long-term goals and measurements of interim progress or indicators, or to annually meaningfully differentiate among its public schools using data from the 2020-2021 school year.”

The letter also addresses assessments and makes it clear that waivers from federal assessment requirements will not be issued by the Secretary of Education..

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House of Representatives moving forward with additional federal pandemic relief package

Last week, several U.S. House committees finalized their respective pieces of a $1.9 trillion federal pandemic relief package modeled on President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. These efforts are part of a wider “budget reconciliation” process that would allow Congressional lawmakers to advance this legislation with simple majorities in both chambers (i.e., the House and Senate.)

As part of this effort the House Education and Labor Committee last week approved nearly $128 billion in additional emergency aid for preK-12 education on a party line 27-21 vote.  The Committee also released preliminary estimates regarding education funding in the proposed bill, including a state-by-state breakdown

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