See all bi-weekly Wisconsin Public Education Network Action Newsletters on our website at WisconsinNetwork.org/Action-News. If you have news, actions, achievements, or updates you’d like us to include in our next newsletter, submit them at this form!
Read on for news that matters to Wisconsin kids and their public schools, action opportunities you can take right now, and local action spotlights.
NEWS THAT MATTERS TO KIDS & PUBLIC SCHOOLS
- PRIMARY ELECTION TUES., FEB. 16
Voters will have cast their ballots in the primary election by the time our next Action Newsletter comes out! Early voting has started, absentee ballot requests must be made by Feb. 11 (even if you requested your ballot through the calendar year 2020, you need to request it again for 2021!), and some communities will have school board and other races on the primary ballot, too. Visit our State Superintendent Election HQ and our 2021 Election HQ for information on these elections and candidates–and visit MyVote.WI.gov to check your registration and absentee ballot status!
- STATE ASSEMBLY SENDS MASK MANDATE REPEAL BACK TO SENATE
The State Legislature has been oscillating on COVID-19 relief and the idea of repealing Gov. Evers’s mask mandate. As of this morning, the Assembly has sent the mask mandate repeal back to the State Senate. The Assembly was originally expected to vote on the repeal last Thursday, January 28, after it passed the State Senate; then, over 40 groups registered their opposition to the proposal, including the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators, Kids Forward, Milwaukee Public Schools, Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance, Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials, Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators, Wisconsin Education Association Council, Wisconsin Retired Educators Association, and more. We urge our partners to continue contacting state legislators to explain how this proposal would affect students and schools in your community. (Stay tuned for a comprehensive legislative tracker soon!)
- FEDERAL BILL INTRODUCED TO FULLY FUND TITLE I AND SPECIAL EDUCATION
U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and U.S. Rep. Susie Lee of Nevada have introduced a bicameral bill to fully fund Title I (the Every Student Succeeds Act, ESSA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) on the federal level. Wisconsin U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin joined her colleagues in introducing and supporting this bill. These have long been important, but unfunded, federal mandates which require leadership at the national level to fully resource them. We invite our partners to call Wisconsin’s federal lawmakers and urge them to support this bill.
- WAES SIGNS LETTER ASKING FOR TEST CANCELLATION
The Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools (WAES), the 501(c)(3) organization overseeing the Wisconsin Public Education Network, has signed the national Network for Public Education’s open letter asking Education Secretary Nominee Dr. Miguel Cardona to cancel the 2021 standardized testing mandate.
- FRIDAY SOCIALS AND ELECTION PREP
Starting this Friday, Feb. 5, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m., we are hosting casual “After-School Socials” for tireless educators and public school advocates to get together virtually and decompress. We’ll have weekly conversations, games, and special guests. We’ll also use this time to circulate some important Get Out The Vote messages with our friends via social media — so bring a snack, a friend, and your smartphone! Register here.
- PUBLIC SCHOOLS WEEK FEB. 22 – 26
Public Schools Week 2021 is coming up. Advocates got together in person at the State Capitol last year in what we never could’ve predicted would be our last face-to-face gathering of 2020! There are still plenty of ways to safely celebrate and uplift our public schools in 2021 — check out our toolkit here.
- FEBRUARY WORKSHOP SCHEDULE AT-A-GLANCE
SAVE THESE DATES:
- THURSDAY, February 11, 3:30 – 5:00 p.m.: School Finance 101 with Dr. Julie Underwood. Part of our 2021 Closing the Gaps Workshop Series, an overview of how school funding works and what needs fixing for lawmakers, legislative staff, school board members and all advocates. Register here.
- SATURDAY, February 20: Budget Debrief & Local Action Workshop. Stay tuned for details on and registration for this workshop, as Joint Finance Committee hearings grow nearer and the fight for budget justice for our kids continues. Register here.
- THURSDAY, February 25, 3:30 – 5:00 p.m.: School Finance 102 with Dr. Julie Underwood and DPI’s Bob Soldner. Part of our 2021 Closing the Gaps Workshop Series, a deeper dive into particular school funding issues in Wisconsin. Register here.
- …and more to come!
- EDCAMP’S SOCIAL JUSTICE DAY
We loved this event last year! The second annual EdCamp Social Justice is taking place on Saturday, February 13 from 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Register via Eventbrite here and, if you buy a T-shirt, proceeds will go directly to support the Sun Prairie High School Black Students’ Union.
- SMART JUSTICE TOWN HALL WITH ACLU
In anticipation of Governor Evers introducing his biennial budget, join us and the ACLU of Wisconsin next Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 6:30pm for a conversation on the many ways to participate in the budget process. Register for the Zoom Webinar here.
- SUPERINTENDENT CANDIDATE FORUMS
- The Wisconsin PTA is hosting a forum of the candidates for State Superintendent tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 4 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Register here.
- The following Thursday, Feb. 11 from 7:00 to 8:30, the candidates will participate in another forum co-sponsored by several of our partners: STATE SUPERINTENDENT CANDIDATE FORUM: What’s At Stake for Black and Brown Communities? Register here.
- NATIONAL WEBINAR ON FIGHTING VOUCHER LEGISLATION
A national “Fighting Voucher Legislation in 2021: An Update on State Voucher Bills and Tools to Oppose Them” Webinar from Public Funds Public Schools and the Network for Public Education will be held tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 4 at 3:00 p.m. Register here.
LOCAL ACTION SPOTLIGHT: UPDATES FROM AROUND THE STATE
- BUDGET ACTION WORKSHOP
The ACLU of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Public Education Network, along with other statewide partners, held the first Budget Action Workshop on Saturday, Jan. 23. See the archive on our calendar page under January 2021 and join us for upcoming budget action prep this month!
- SCHOOL BOARD MATTERS WORKSHOP
We held a panel discussion with school board members and community advocates from around the state on Wednesday, Jan. 27. It was an excellent discussion which tackled some tough questions, got some fantastic advice from our excellent panel, and shared lots of ideas on how to navigate and understand local tensions to keep what’s best for kids at the center of the spring elections. The full archive is on our calendar page under January 2021.
Bob Wright of the St. Croix Valley Friends of Public Education spoke on our School Board Matters panel in late January. He spoke about the role of advocates in local elections and navigating relationships with school boards. He and other local leaders are working to make sure voters are well informed going into the spring elections we encourage partners to follow.
Sun Prairie School Board President Steve Schroeder was a panelist at our School Board Matters workshop and spoke extensively about the role of school board members in advancing equity in public schools — and how current school board elections matter to this project. Check out the full video archive here.
The Fox Cities Advocates for Public Education are setting up Zoom meetings with state legislators in the region for March and April with the goal of building personal relationships and speaking face-to-face about the issues facing public schools in the Fox Valley. It’s a great idea and we encourage others to do the same. Visit our Digital Actions page for ideas on how to get started.
Schools and Communities United in Milwaukee, along with Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT), Southside Organizing Center (SOC), Hmong American Women’s Association (HAWA), African American Roundtable (AART), Black Leaders Organizing for Change (BLOC) & the ACLU HS Youth Organizers have sent out a school board candidate questionnaire ahead of the February 16th primary election. The Beloit Public Education Network hosted a Community Listening and Learning session with UW-Madison’s Dr. Julie Mead on Feb. 1 covering 2X charter schools and the potential impacts on public education.
Spotlight on the Superior School District, which released a statement outlining a series of concrete commitments to promote equity in public schools. Many districts around Wisconsin, including Superior, marked Martin Luther King, Jr. Day last month by outlining the steps they are taking to dismantle inequities and injustices.
Closing this achievement gap while raising achievement for all students is the top priority of the Board of Education, the District Administrator, and all staff.School District of Superior
We applaud the School District of Superior for committing to do what is right, even when it is hard.
PARTNER & ACTION RESOURCES