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
- WISCONSIN SCHOOL BOARD WEEK
This week is Wisconsin School Board Week! We appreciate and salute the leaders across Wisconsin who have stepped up to serve in these democratically-elected school board seats in an effort to support and strengthen our public schools so that all students can thrive. THANK YOU!
- FLURRY OF EDUCATION BILLS IN CONGRESS
Citizens may struggle to keep up with the education bills being introduced, making their way through last-minute hearings before the Assembly and Senate Education Committees (or the Committees on Mental Health or Government Accountability), being amended, and in some cases already passing through one branch of the state legislature. These include:
– measures requiring that school districts change their financial reporting (AB378/SB373);
– measures requiring specific civics instruction (AB563);
– measures requiring cursive instruction in school (AB435/SB431); and
– measures limiting or prohibiting the teaching of anti-racist or anti-sexist curricula (AB/SB411);
– and many more.
AB411, an effort to prohibit educators from teaching the full truth about racism and sexism, passed the Assembly on September 28; addendums on the floor included a long list of terms the measure would consider unacceptable, including “equity,” “cultural awareness,” and “social emotional learning.”
Learn more about these bills and other legislation, and track your legislator’s votes, at WisconsinNetwork.org/Tracker.
- ANNUAL MEETINGS AND OTHER BOARD MEETINGS MAKE HEADLINES
Anti-democratic incidents at school board meetings have made headlines across the country in recent months, and Wisconsin is no exception. Political spending has fueled school board recall efforts in Kenosha, Mequon-Thiensville, and communities across Wisconsin. Some school board meetings have turned hostile and led to early adjournments or even resignations as organized disruptors have bypassed board meeting standards and rules to voice their opposition to COVID-19 safety measures. The FBI will investigate threats against school board members across the country.
Meanwhile, a group of provocateurs took over the Kenosha Unified School District’s annual meeting in September and voted to slash the district’s budget by over $1 million and board members’ annual stipend to $100 per meeting. While the budget vote is non-binding, it exemplified the anti-public school sentiments that have crept into school board meetings — and the importance of annual meetings.
- STATE OF EDUCATION ADDRESS
Dr. Jill Underly, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, gave her first State of Education Address on September 23. Our executive director, Heather DuBois Bourenane, was in attendance, as were Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools (WAES) Board Members Duff Martin and Jill Gaskell. WAES Board Member and Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance Executive Director Kim Kaukl emceed the address. A notable quote from Dr. Underly’s address: “If you want a stronger civics curriculum, you’ll find no resistance from me. Maybe it would end up resulting in a future Legislature that understands the complex legal and societal issues our families and communities face.” Dr. Underly’s speech was excellent and rested on a common premise: Public Schools Unite Us.
- U.S. EDUCATION SECRETARY VISITS WISCONSIN
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visited Wisconsin schools to begin his “Return to School Road Trip” in September, starting with Locust Lane Elementary School in Eau Claire, where WAES Board Member Khoua Vang is the principal. Secretary Cardona sought to celebrate safe, in-person public schools in Wisconsin.
- EQUITY IN ACTION WORKSHOP SERIES
Our series of free, virtual workshops on organizing for educational equity is underway. Please find the list of workshops here with their registration links — we encourage Wisconsin public school advocates to join us!
– Wed. Oct. 20 School Board Matters with Megan Miller, Angela Lang, Jilly Gokalgandhi and more! Register here: https://secure.everyaction.com/70fbUaZ9JU6UeOHQAhm9Dw2. 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!
– 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. Speakers are Joe Donovan of Donovan Group, Lori Blakeslee of Green Bay Area Public School District, and Christian Phelps and Denise Gaumer Hutchison of the Network.
– 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.
- BE AN EQUITY CHAMPION FOR WISCONSIN STUDENTS
Want to make it public that you support safe and equitable public schools for every student in Wisconsin? Sign our pledge and join the large and growing movement to make the pro-educational justice voice the loudest and most respected voice in the room!
- DIGITAL OFFICE HOURS
We still hold digital office hours weekly on Mondays at 2pm for public education partners who have questions, ideas, or ongoing campaigns! Contact Christian@WisconsinNetwork.org for the drop-in meeting link.
LOCAL ACTION SPOTLIGHT: UPDATES FROM AROUND THE STATE
- 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.
- SHAREABLE ACTION ALERT: ANNUAL MEETINGS MATTER!
Help families, advocates and community members in your local area learn from the Kenosha incident and understand the importance of annual meetings by sharing our “Annual Meetings Matter” action alert.
- 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 Northwoods Public Education Coalition (NWoPEC) is growing, and the next meeting is next week! 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.
The Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools is looking to connect with issue allies and other public school foundations to increase public school foundations’ role in pro-public advocacy across the state.
Parent and special education advocate Denise Seibert joined Green Bay Area Public School District administrators in this story about the inequitable state funding formula for special education programs, helping personalize and shed light on the funding challenges affecting students with disabilities in Wisconsin.
Promptly after the Kenosha annual meeting in September, Kenosha Parents for Safety & Equity and Kenosha Education Justice Coalition launched a petition to stand with students and educators and denounce those who seek to play politics with students. It already has nearly 200 signatures. Similarly, the Alliance for Education in Waukesha is circulating a petition to support LGBTQ+ rights in the district which has gathered nearly 3,000 signatures on Change.org.
SPOTLIGHT ON SUPPORT MEQUON-THIENSVILLE SCHOOL DISTRICT (MTSD)! Nancy Urbani is among some of the parents/caretakers and other community leaders rallying to support her local students, public schools, and school board in the face of recall efforts and attacks on safety and equity measures. SUPPORT MTSD is a new and quickly-growing local effort that has focused on nonpartisan, non-political, positive organizing for safe and equitable public schools, and is debunking false narratives about the district’s leadership and performance.
Local Action, Statewide Impact! #GoPublic!
PARTNER & ACTION RESOURCES