See all monthly 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
- TRACKING THE “TRUTH TAX”
Members of the Wisconsin legislature are moving on two pieces of legislation taking aim at anti-racist and anti-sexist lessons in public school curricula and training programs in public schools. We’re tracking A.B./S.B. 411 and A.B. 414 on our Education Vote Tracker. Supporters of equity in public education showed up to a committee hearing on the “10% Truth Tax,” a bill that threatens 10% of school districts’ state equalization aid if anyone challenges the way they are teaching students the well-researched and meticulously documented history, impacts and consequences of racism and sexism. A.B. 414 targets adults rather than students, going after anti-racist training programs for state employees.
- DPI BACK-TO-SCHOOL SAFETY GUIDELINES
The Department of Public Instruction released in August a set of “strongly recommended” safety guidelines for districts across Wisconsin, based on national CDC and state DHS recommendations. Among other things, the guidelines strongly recommend the universal wearing of masks in school buildings, due to high transmission of COVID-19, the Delta variant, and the fact that children under 12 are not currently eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.
- PEDIATRICIANS’ OPEN LETTER
Nearly 500 Wisconsin pediatricians and other healthcare professionals have signed an open letter imploring Wisconsinites to mask up, maintain distance, get vaccinated if at all possible, and follow public health recommendations to keep schools open for face-to-face instruction and keep students safe this year.
- THOMPSON SENDS COVID-19 MESSAGE FOR UW SYSTEM
Interim UW System President (and former Governor) Tommy Thompson has iterated that the state’s university system has the authority to set strict safety policies to deal with the current COVID-19 surge. He has said that the UW System is prepared to stand its ground in any legal battles over their safety policies.
- EQUITY IN ACTION WORKSHOP SERIES
We’re holding a number of free workshops on achieving educational equity this fall/winter. Please find the list of workshops here with their registration links — we encourage ALL Wisconsin public school advocates to join us!
– Thurs. Sept. 9 How to talk About Educational Equity (when the dog whistle is louder than the school bell): A Race Class Narrative Workshop with Lisa Lucas and Rebecca Lynch from All In Wisconsin. Register here: https://secure.everyaction.com/zdXVbIIxO0mDC5F30MSuog2.
– Wed. Sept. 22 Partisanship, Politics & Public Education: How to “do” nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit advocacy. Register here: https://secure.everyaction.com/pL5Ob1H7H02Th6P-vliyiA2. Concrete tips and legal guidance on nonprofit organizing, messaging, and action from the experts at Bolder Advocacy.
– Wed. Oct. 20 School Board Matters with Megan Miller, Angela Lang, Jilly Gokalgandhi and more! Spring elections are critical, and it’s time to start preparing for them. Join us for straight talk on how to recruit public education champion, how to run for office, and how to increase the diversity of voices on your local school board — and why all this matters! Register here: https://secure.everyaction.com/70fbUaZ9JU6UeOHQAhm9Dw2.
– Wed. Nov. 17 Media Training for Public Education Advocates: How to prepare for interviews and press events. Register here: https://secure.everyaction.com/r9_8ohH8Hk-2b_FtPd_KrQ2. Get the training you need to be confident in front of cameras and reporters — and learn how to use those skills to “be the media” for local schools when the local coverage isn’t touching on all the issues.
– Wed. Dec. 1 Organizing Locally to Support Local Students: Relationships, Coalition-Building, and Getting a Group Going. Register here: https://secure.everyaction.com/imqbt5x6WUWGhxd4Qzyseg2.
– Wed. Dec. 15 Organizing 102: Power Analysis and Action Planning. Register here: https://secure.everyaction.com/GREySGrENkW44ONkNt8Fjw2. This two-part organizing series closes out the year with a focus on getting ready for 2022 by building relationships, setting goals, and building a movement to support our students and their public schools.
- DISABILITY VOTE COALITION WEBINAR
Our friends at the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition are holding a Zoom webinar on Tuesday, September 14 to discuss voter registration. We encourage you to share this opportunity widely! Read more and register: https://tinyurl.com/3ncks4s3.
- WISCONSIN POLICY FORUM BACK-TO-SCHOOL VIRTUAL EVENT
Wisconsin Policy Forum is holding a virtual event series on Fridays, focusing September 24 on the challenges facing Wisconsin districts as they return to school. Register here: https://wispolicyforum.org/events/forum-friday-back-to-school-challenges-and-opportunities/?fbclid=IwAR1zlbNUO7gMlMg7ftGh94cRUuOcnSgvHizUjBJZVk3Ei4RkSBnpVw4-vVU.
- FAIR MAPS COALITION LEGISLATIVE LOBBY DAY
Our friends at the Fair Maps Coalition are holding a virtual “Lobby Day” on Monday, September 27 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This event is focused on speaking with lawmakers and encouraging them to support A.B. 395/S.B. 389 — the fair maps bills introduced by Sen. Smith and Rep. Andraca. Register here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSegnmezjwmnq42WM0rFnw3RVZeBksskzt1Jq37QRgavL-BkqA/viewform.
- WISCONSIN POLICY FORUM SALUTE AWARD NOMINATIONS
Last call! The Wisconsin Policy Forum is accepting nominations for its Salute to Local Government awards until September 3, and school leaders are eligible for most of these awards. We encourage public school advocates to nominate leaders in educational equity in communities across the state!
LOCAL ACTION SPOTLIGHT: UPDATES FROM AROUND THE STATE
- SUMMER SUMMIT ARCHIVE
The archive of our 7th Annual Summer Summit is live at WisconsinNetwork.org/Summit! We store archives of several previous Summits on that landing page and encourage people to refer back to relevant sessions whether they attended live or not. We also encourage you to fill out the feedback form so we can improve for next year — the 2022 Summer Summit will be held in Eau Claire!
- EQUITY RESOURCES PAGE
We’re building a live page of resources, information, and tools to our new Equity Resources Page, so public education advocates have a central home for messaging and movement-building around equity and justice in public schools. Find this under “2021 Action Center” in the menu on our website.
- LIVE DIGITAL ACTIONS
Our Digital Actions Page is always being updated with the meaningful digital actions you can take to support public schools and stand up for all students. Stay tuned for pro-public pledges, open letters and petitions regarding safety and equity coming very soon!
The emerging Northwoods Public Education Coalition (NWoPEC) is growing! If you live in Northwest Wisconsin and want to connect with like-minded public school advocates from many counties in the region, contact Chris@WisconsinNetwork.org to join the next meeting.
Lake Mills Citizen Advocates for Public Education (CAPE) leader and WAES Board Member Sandy Whisler wrote an excellent letter published in the Wisconsin State Journal (among other publications). She explained in clear and factual terms that critical race theory is a legal and academic framework — not a pre-K-12 school curriculum — and that attacks on this theory are disingenuous and counterproductive. The piece is titled “Race Theory Isn’t Part of Curriculum.”
A Rally for Fair Maps took place in Green Bay on Saturday, August 28. Many of our partners participated in the demonstration to stand up for democracy (which, if you haven’t heard, depends on strong public schools). Wisconsin Public Education Network tabled at the event and was excited to see hundreds of people “pack the park” for this important cause. Check out some news coverage: WBAY (ABC affiliate); WLUK (Fox 11); WFRV (CBS affiliate)
SPOTLIGHT on some incredible student leadership from Sheboygan, where a group of students from South High School known as WE RISE (Working to Eliminate Racial Injustice and Support Equity) have worked collaboratively to urge more equitable lessons and conversations in the classroom.
We appreciate and congratulate Madison Metropolitan School District Board Member Nicki Vander Meulen, who is featured in this August 2021 report on women elected officials with disabilities! As the first openly autistic school board member in the United States, she has been a consistent pro-public advocate in the Madison area and has spoken in defense of educational equity for students with disabilities in many public forums across the state. Her feature on page 12 of this Represent Women report is well-deserved!
Nicki Vander Meulen was also one of 10 worthy individuals nominated to be the Wisconsin Public Education Network 2021 Changemaker of the Year Award. Martha Siravo, two-year Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin and founding member of Madtown Mommas and Disability Rights Advocates, was announced as the award of the award during the closing session of the 7th Annual Summer Summit. Read more about the Changemaker of the Year winner and nominees here.
PARTNER & ACTION RESOURCES