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
- SCHOOL BOARD RECALL FAILS
Voters in the Mequon-Thiensville School District voted to retain all four incumbent school board members who were subject to a recall election. This recall effort made the most progress of any in the past year in Wisconsin—no others have gathered enough signatures to force a vote—meaning no school board recalls have been successful this year. Mequon-Thiensville voters affirmed their support for local leadership at about 60% margins.
- ORGANIZED MONEY FUELS SCHOOL BOARD ATTACKS
A number of reports (Wisconsin Public Radio, Urban Milwaukee and more) have outlined the established groups across the country, many of which are aligned with partisan politics, putting money into organizing school board recall efforts and protests against COVID-19 safety measures, curriculum, and more.
- RURAL WISCONSIN PRIVATE VOUCHER SCHOOL
The Antigo School District has sold an old elementary school in Mattoon, WI to a religious nonprofit after a lengthy and expensive legal battle over the building in which the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) represented the religious nonprofit, Shepherd’s Watch, and lost an initial court dispute over ownership of the building. The nonprofit intends to open a private, religious school paid for by taxpayers statewide via the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program.
- SEN. BALLWEG, OTHERS VOTE AGAINST ANTI-TRANSGENDER SPORTS BILL
Republican State Sen. Joan Ballweg joined two of her Democratic colleagues (Sen. Melissa Agard and Sen. LaTonya Johnson) in voting against the advancement of bills that would ban transgender girls and women from participating in girls’ and women’s sports in high school and college. The bills emerged from the Committee on Human Services on 2-3 votes; Sen. Ballweg cited, among other concerns, her background in suicide prevention for her vote.
- JOIN ALLIED ORGANIZATIONS IN SIGNING THE EQUITY PLEDGE
Twelve organizations (and counting) have officially signed our Pledge to Be an Equity Champion for Wisconsin Students, along with dozens of individual public school champions across the state. Join them! We specifically thank and highlight All In Wisconsin, American Association of University Women (AAUW) – Wisconsin, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Wisconsin, Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC), Fair Maps Coalition, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, Madtown Mommas & Disability Advocates, Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools (WAES), Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), Wisconsin Farmers Union, Wisconsin School Social Workers Association, and WISDOM for putting their commitment to safe and equitable public schools on the record already.
- EQUITY IN ACTION WORKSHOP SERIES
There are three more free workshops coming up this year for public school champions—all of which are particularly helpful for pro-public school board members or those involved in school board issues/campaigns!
- 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.
- WE WANT YOUR 2021 FEEDBACK
It’s time for us to do our annual review of Wisconsin Public Education Network’s work, actions, and resources, and we want your feedback to help us grow the movement and make a bigger impact next year. If you’re a public education advocate who’s attended a workshop or event, the Summer Summit, used our website or digital resources, or participated in any of our actions this year, please fill out this form to assess our 2020-21 work and help us generate great ideas for 2022 and beyond: https://forms.gle/Nmf13Uxiy3VyAaM97.
LOCAL ACTION SPOTLIGHT: UPDATES FROM AROUND THE STATE
Our friends at Progress North testified powerfully in favor of fair, nonpartisan legislative maps in Madison last Thursday. Fair maps mean fair funding for our public schools!
We were thrilled to visit the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance (WiRSA) Conference in Wisconsin Dells in late October, where public school professionals and advocates from across the state gathered to work together. Special congratulations to Fruit Broadcasting (Ron and Beth Fruit) from Ithaca, WI for receiving WiRSA’s Rural Advocacy Award!
Public school supporters in Manitowoc are displaying a growing number of “Public Schools Unite Us” yard signs as they rally support for safe, equitable public schools amid an effort to recall school board members.
Our pro-public friends in the Mequon-Thiensville School District rallied a huge groundswell of support for public schools over the past month, including Nancy Urbani and others with Support MTSD. Their positive, nonpartisan message drew thousands of supporters in a short time.
Special spotlight on BARABOO SCHOOL DISTRICT current and former board members, educators, families, community advocates and more! At the district’s annual meeting in October, hundreds of public school champions showed up to support teaching the truth, school safety measures, educators’ hard work—and ultimately voted overwhelmingly to raise school board salaries. Local organizing that leads with our values creates real change!
One moment of particular inspiration: the public comments from Kristin White Eagle, a Ho-Chunk Nation legislator, at that meeting. “The…goal is to instill a sense of pride, identity, and inclusion in all of our children,” she said. “As I stand here today in this beautifully renovated school, built on the ancestral lands of my tribe, I know the history of the Ho-Chunk people is complex and can be difficult for people to hear about and discuss. But it needs to be remembered.”
PARTNER & ACTION RESOURCES