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Legislative Update


Gov. Evers suggests waiver from start date to help students catch up; rejects GOP request to provide funding based on in-person instruction

Gov. Evers suggests waiver from start date to help students catch up; rejects GOP request to provide funding based on in-person instruction

Gov. Tony Evers suggested a waiver from the Sept. 1 start date and robust summer school offerings to help address pandemic -related learning loss for Wisconsin’s K-12 students.

From The Cap Times (Briana Reilly):

“There’s no question that there is a learning loss, and I’m not blaming anybody for this,” the Democratic governor said at a virtual WisPolitics.com luncheon Tuesday. “This is a pandemic … and so it’s just one of the byproducts of that and we have to face it and make sure that our kids get caught up.” read more…

Interview with Rep. Sondy Pope, Assembly education committee ranking member

Recently, I conducted an interview with Rep. Sondy Pope (D-Mount Horeb), ranking member of the Assembly Committee on Education, to get her 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 Rep. Pope for taking the time to join us!

Rep. Pope told me that she is hopeful for a return to two-thirds funding from the state as that has been a priority for a long time as well as a recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding. She also talked about the needs of rural school districts and much more.

You can watch the full interview below: read more…

GOP legislators request Gov. Evers prioritize districts with in-person instruction for federal funds

GOP legislators request Gov. Evers prioritize districts with in-person instruction for federal funds

In keeping with the theme of getting all K-12 students back to in-person instruction, and foreshadowing a potential preview of how state funds might be allocated to schools in a legislative budget counter-proposal, numerous key GOP legislators have sent a letter to Gov. Evers asking him to prioritize federal funding for districts with full-time in-person instruction over those providing instruction in a virtual or hybrid format. The letter was signed by 52 GOP lawmakers including nearly every GOP member of the Joint Finance Committee. read more…

Governor’s proposed budget addresses “meal shaming,” funds school breakfast reimbursements

Gov. Evers’ proposed 2021-23 state budget includes a number of provisions related to school meals, including provisions intended to address so-called “meal shaming” – a term used to describe practices that single out children with unpaid school meal debts. 

“Meal shaming” was the subject of legislation during the 2019-20 legislative session which did not pass, and also generated a resolution—Resolution 6.17 (see below) adopted by the 2020 WASB Delegate Assembly. read more…

Assembly education committee schedules informational and public hearings this week

Assembly education committee schedules informational and public hearings this week

The state Assembly Committee on Education, chaired by Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) will hold an informational hearing and a public hearing on Thursday, March 4 at 9:30 am in room 412 East of the State Capitol. The informational hearing will include testimony from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) regarding progress on the dyslexia guidebook that was required to be developed by Wisconsin 2019 Act 86.

Immediately following the informational hearing the committee will receive public testimony on the following proposals: read more…

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: read 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: read 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. read 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..

read more…

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