Wisconsin Public Education Network Action News & Updates


Wisconsin Public Education Network issues regular email announcements with breaking news, updates, and action opportunities for public education supporters. To join our mailing list and ensure you’re receiving the latest updates, email SUBSCRIBE to hdb@WisconsinNetwork.org. Please include your name, contact information, group/affiliation, and city in the body of your email.

Below is a selected archive of our regular Action News & Updates:

February 19, 2018

Dear friends of Wisconsin public schools,

Tuesday, February 20 is an Election Day in Wisconsin! There are primaries statewide for the Wisconsin Supreme Court and local offices, plus school referenda in three communities. Check out your ballot at MyVote.WI.gov and get to the polls between 7am and 8pm to #VotePublic!Don’t forget your photo ID!

What's on the Feb. 20 ballot?-3


This week is also a big week in the State Legislature, as legislators rush to end the 2017-2018 session and will be taking up dozens of bills, including several on education:

School Shootings and School Safety in Wisconsin

Since the tragedy in Florida last week, we have been getting a lot of questions related to the  school shootings and threats, and people are asking: what can I do where I live and what can we do together?

The Network for Public Education is calling for a National Day of Action on April 20, 2018, and we will be keeping track of what Wisconsin communities and schools have planned. We might not all agree on the solution to this issue, but the time to stand together before more lives are lost is now. Let’s look for ways to unite our communities in support of our children as we call on lawmakers to find lasting solutions.


We also call on those who care about this issue to think about how this issue ties to our larger concerns about school funding and meeting the needs of local students. As you consider testimony you might present to the Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding, and conversations you might have with other lawmakers, take time to discuss where school safety funding, mental health services, and other needs are part your concerns.  A few points worth considering:

  • The 2011-2013 biennial budget included a veto of the revenue limit exemption for school safety expenditures. From LFB Paper 530: “Under 2009 Act 28, a nonrecurring adjustment for school safety expenditures was created, beginning in the 2011-12 school year. The amount of the adjustment would be equal to $100 times the number of pupils enrolled in the district or $40,000, whichever is greater. To receive the adjustment, a school board would be required to: (a) adopt a resolution to increase its limit using the adjustment; (b) jointly develop an expenditure plan with a local law enforcement agency that specifies the purposes of the additional revenue and is consistent with the broader school safety plan required of districts; and (c) submit the expenditure plan to DPI. A school district could use funding generated by the adjustment to purchase school safety equipment, fund the compensation costs of security officers, or fund other expenditures consistent with its school safety plan.” [Act 32 Sections: 2598 and 2602]How much has this veto cost your district? What could you do if you still had that exemption?
  • In the current legislative session, 50 lawmakers cosponsored a bill to make permitless concealed carry legal in Wisconsin and repeal the state’s Gun Free School Zones Law. This bill (SB169) was widely opposed by WPEN partners and did not move forward after an amended version passed through committee.
  • BREAKING NEWS TODAY: Rep. Jesse Kremer is currently circulating the Private School Carry Act:  LRB-0044/1. This bill would allow concealed carry in private, parochial and tribal schools. From the memo:  “The Private School Carry Act seeks to address a massive public safety issue in our schools – one that deals with evil and cowardly individuals bent on harming our children. No amount of video surveillance, locked key FOB access doors OR gun control will EVER prevent a shooting at a school. Allowing local schools, school boards and parents the ability to determine how they will defend against a crazed madman through the use of legally armed teachers or parents IS, however, a deterrent.” Co-sponsorship deadline is Feb. 23. If you have concerns about this bill, please contact your legislators asap.Private School Carry-4

In case you missed it…

Upcoming Events and Actions

Visit our online calendar for the latest in public education events and actions.  To keep up with breaking news, follow our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WisconsinNetwork/.

I Love My Public School Week – in photos!

And to end on a positive note, THANK YOU to all who celebrated your local schools last week! We’ve put together a photo album capturing some of the events, actions, and messages sent around the state. Take a few minutes to scroll through – there is much to celebrate in our schools, and we appreciated the opportunity to reflect on this during I Love My Public School week! Don’t see your district? Send us your photos so we can spread the love!

Thank you for all you do for our students and their public schools!

Jan. 29, 2018

SENATE PUBLIC HEARING: Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection

The committee will hold a public hearing on the following items at the time specified below:

  • Wednesday, January 31, 2018, 9:30 AM, Room 201 Southeast, State Capitol
  • Senate Bill 713: Relating to: the authority of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands to make trust fund loans and delegate authority to invest trust fund moneys, the use of common school fund income moneys, and making an appropriation. By Senators Stroebel and Craig; cosponsored by Representatives Hutton, R. Brooks, Katsma, Macco, Horlacher and Tusler.

The companion Assembly Bill 857, has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

Action Alert from our friends at CAPE:
Dear CAPE members and friends,

Some background information on school library funding –
School districts receive an annual distribution of earnings from the Common School Fund. These funds (commonly known as Library Aid) are used to purchase library books and other instructional materials. Managed by the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL), the Common School Fund was established by the Wisconsin Constitution in 1848 with the granting of about 1.5 million acres of land for educational purposes. The vast majority of these lands were sold to create the principal for a permanent school fund, with the earnings to be exclusively used to support and maintain common schools (now known as K-12 public schools) and theirlibraries. On average, the Common School Fund provides $32 million annually to Wisconsin school libraries.
What’s happening now?
Two bills – Senate Bill 713 and its companion bill Assembly Bill 857 – have been introduced that would end the Common School Fund as we know it and eliminate the BCPL loan programthat benefits schools, towns, villages, technical colleges, CESAs, and public library systems. The bills would eliminate the requirement that schools spend Common School Fund disbursements on instructional materials, library books, or school library computers/software. They would also eliminate BCPL’s authority to make loans, the interest on which currently goes into the Common School Fund.
Why are we concerned?
  • The current structure has been working well since the founding of our State.
  • Over the past 10 years, the BCPL State Trust Fund Loan program has invested over $1 billion in communities throughout Wisconsin.
  • Distributions from the Common School Fund are often the only dollars available for school libraries to purchase materials.

What can you do if you are concerned?

  • Contact your state Senator or state Representative today and ask them to oppose Senate Bill 713 and Assembly Bill 857.  
  • If you live in Senate District 13, call Sen. Fitzgerald’s office at 608-266-5660 and ask him to oppose Senate Bill 713. If you live in Assembly District 38, call Rep. Kleefisch’s office at  608-266-8551 and ask him to oppose Assembly Bill 857. You can add one of the above concerns or any personal concerns of your own as talking points, or you can simply leave a message stating your opposition. The important thing is to make a phone call stating your request.
  • If you are not sure who your legislators are, you can look them up here: https://maps.legis.wisconsin.gov
  • You can also send an e-mail to your legislator. The email addresses of members of the Wisconsin Legislature all have the same format. For members of the Assembly, the form is Rep.Jones@legis.wisconsin.gov; for members of the Senate, the form is Sen.Adams@legis.wisconsin.gov.
Sample e-mail to your Senator
Subject line: Please oppose Senate Bill 713
     Dear Sen. ___________,
     I am writing to ask you to oppose Senate Bill 713. The Common School Fund provides the
     funds for materials and services essential for our public school libraries. This structure has
     worked well for over 150 years and I ask you to maintain it. (This is just a sample text; feel
     free to use this or insert your own thoughts here.)
     Thank you!
     (Your name)
     (Your address)
Sample e-mail to your Representative
Subject line: Please oppose Assembly Bill 857
   Dear Rep. ________________,
   I am writing to ask you to oppose Assembly Bill 857.  (Include your text here.)
   Thank you!
   (Your name)
   (Your address)
Please contact your legislators today.  Then share this information with others who might be concerned about this issue and encourage them to contact their legislators. If you have questions, please respond to this e-mail.
Thank you in advance for taking action on this important issue!
Citizen Advocates for Public Education

January 22, 2018

Dear friends of Wisconsin public schools,

We walked away from the State Education Convention last week feeling inspired and resolved to work harder together for the amazing public schools all over the state that are doing such good work to support our students. Many thanks to everyone who attended our #GoPublic social and WELCOME to those who joined our mailing list at that event. We look forward to staying connected! Was also great to attend the Wisconsin PTA executive board meeting and learn more about their goals for the coming year.

If these events were any indication of how ready Wisconsin is to come together to support students and schools, I think we know the answer the question posed this week by The Progressive Magazine: Will 2018 Be the Year of the Education Activist? YES!

The update below contains the usual news, action alerts, and education-related event calendar. Please take a moment to get informed, RSVP for our upcoming events and STAY TUNED for an announcement of an online webinar to help us prepare to speak up at the upcoming Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding public hearing, Friday Feb. 210am to 4pm at the James Madison Academic Campus, 8135 W. Florist Ave, Milwaukee. (See map.),

The next meeting of Wisconsin Public Education Network partners is Feb. 12 from 12:30-2:30 pm at the Middleton Public Library (click here to RSVP).  As always, the RSVP form includes an opportunity to provide an update from your team/district/organization, so please take a moment to respond even if you can’t attend. A call-in option is available.


For more and breaking news, be sure to follow us on facebook or Twitter.

  • ACTION ITEM: Big education hearing scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 25, 10 am, 417 North GAR. The Assembly Education Committee will hear public testimony on the following bills:
    • SPARSITY AID/LOW REVENUE LIMIT CEILING AB 835/SB690. This bill revives a deleted budget proposal to increase the low revenue ceiling: “This bill increases the revenue limit ceiling for school districts to $9,400 in the  2018-19 school year, and then increases the ceiling by $100 each school year until  the ceiling reaches $9,800 in the 2022-23 school year. However, the bill also provides that during the three school years following a school year in which an operating referendum fails in a school district, the school district’s revenue limit ceiling is the revenue limit ceiling that applied in the school year during which the referendum was held.”  It looks like most WPEN partners and education advocates support this bill (which was a big part of our budget ask), but with the caveat that legislators REMOVE the provision to freeze limits at current levels for districts that fail to to pass a referendum. For districts that would be impacted by this decision, like Bonduel, the funding squeeze would be especially harmful. Check out the Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo on the estimated effects of this bill here.
    • Relating to courses that generate a profit for a school district – AB810
    • EDUCATION SAVINGS ACCOUNTS (ESAs) for GIFTED AND TALENTED STUDENTS –AB830. This bill would introduce a new kind of “voucher” for Wisconsin students in the form of a $1000 “Education Savings Account” that could be used by parents of low-income talented and gifted students to receive the extracurricular programming of their choice outside of the school day from a private vendor. The appropriation for these ESAs would be $2,000,000 – a sharp contrast to the  $237,200 that is currently appropriated for public school gifted & talented programs, and is only available in grants of up to $30,000. At the time of this post, the only lobbying interests that have registered on this bill are the American Federation for Children and School Choice Wisconsin, both in favor. It’s worth noting that while this bill only targets low-income talented and gifted students, it has been a political objective of the choice movement to introduce Education Savings Accounts to Wisconsin for some time, while ESAs have brought controversy and court battles to other states. Even supporters of school choice have cautioned against their “perils”.
  • ACTION ALERT!  The Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding is tentatively scheduled to meet on Friday, Feb. 2 in Milwaukee. Stay tuned for details, and check out our BLUE RIBBON HQ page – a resource page with regular updates (including a new list of the stated priorities of the commission) and action opportunities for supporters of strong public schools.  We are also planning a webinar to help people prepare to testify – details coming soon.
  • DPI hearings on EDUCATOR LICENSING CHANGES are underway! SAA’s summary of changes is here. WEAC’s is here.  Make your voice heard (in person and online comments will be equally weighted).  The online comment form can be accessed herethrough Jan. 31. The last two hearings will be  January 25, 3 to 5 p.m. — CESA 10, Conference Center, 725 West Park Avenue, Chippewa Falls; and January 29, 4 to 6 p.m. — University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Centennial Hall, 3212 Centennial Hall, La Crosse. Link to PI 34 Proposed Rule Public Comment Form
  • I LOVE MY PUBLIC SCHOOL WEEK TOOLKIT NOW ONLINE! Make plans and let us know what you have in mind so we can amplify your actions! Encourage your board to pass a resolution declaring Feb. 12-16 I Love My Public Schools Week, and take time to spread the love both in your district and at the Capitol!
  • ACTION ITEM: VOUCHER TRANSPARENCY. The WASB unanimously passed a resolution in favor of Voucher Transparency at its annual convention last week, while more and more school boards continue to pass resolutions. That list now includes: Baraboo, Eau Claire, Green Bay, Holmen, Janesville, Merrill, Port Edwards, Rhinelander, Shorewood, South Milwaukee, Spooner, Stevens Point, Stoughton, Wausau, Wauwatosa, and Wisconsin Rapids! We’ve heard that Sun Prairie, Madison, LaCrosse and more have resolutions in the works. Check out sample resolutions at WASB’s Boards Taking Action page, under Voucher Transparency, and encourage your board to join them! Please be sure to let us know if your district passes a resolution so we can share the news!
  • WEMTA (Wisconsin Educational Media & Technology Association) ALERT: Common School Funds in jeopardy. From WEMTA: Senator Stroebel (R-Saukville) formally introduced Senate Bill 713 today and Representative Hutton (R-Brookfield) introduced a companion bill, Assembly Bill 857, which would end the Common School Fund as we know it and eliminate the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) loan program that benefits schools, towns, villages, technical colleges, CESAs and public library systems. BCPL Trust Fund loans have invested over $1 billion in our local communities over the past 10 years. These loans have helped fund the construction of new libraries, school repairs and upgrades, and the purchase of ambulances, fire trucks and snow plows. On average, the Common School Funds provides $32 million to Wisconsin school libraries.” See the full WEMTA Alert here, and stay tuned for more info on this bill to watch.
  • Resource: Did you miss our webinar with SocialSchool4Edu? It’s now online! Practical tips and tools for district communicators or grassroots teams looking to be “everyday ambassadors” for our public schools: Go Public! Using Social Media to Support Local Public Schools.
  • ESSA Update: On January 16th Secretary DeVos approved Wisconsin’s modified ESSA plan. DPI has posted the approval letter, release, and final approved plan on their website. To find the plan, look under new items of interest or Wisconsin Consolidated State Plan.  The Superintendent’s Equity in ESSA Stakeholder Council (of which I am a member), will continue to meet in 2018 as the Superintendent’s Equity Council. The council had its first meeting in January with a focus on social & emotional learning.


For the complete list of upcoming Wisconsin Public Education Network meetings and education-related events around the state, view and bookmark our online calendar at http://www.wisconsinnetwork.org/blog/calendar.

  • Jan. 27: Educators Amplified: What Does Accountability Really Mean? 12-3pm, Cactus Club, Bayview, WI, 2496 S. Wentworth Ave. Cosponsored by Schools and Communities Unites and WEAC Region 7. Featuring Earl Ingraham and Tim Slekar.
  • Feb. 2 10am to 4pm at the James Madison Academic Campus, 8135 W. Florist Ave, Milwaukee.  (See map.) Public Hearing of the Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding. (Blue Ribbon HQ page here)
  • February 12-16 – I LOVE MY PUBLIC SCHOOLS Week of Action (toolkit here)
  • Feb. 12, Wisconsin Public Education Network meeting and I Love My Public Schools week kickoff event), 12:30pm, Middleton Public Library, hosted by CAPE Middleton. CLICK HERE TO RSVP FOR FEB. 12 MEETING.
  • Feb. 14: Wisconsin PTA (Parent Teacher Association) Legislative Conference. 9am-2pm, Wisconsin State Capitol, 2nd Floor North Hearing Room. Facebook event here. Speakers include Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt and Wisconsin Public Education Network’s Heather DuBois Bourenane.  All are welcome.
  • Feb. 16: Be a Valentine for Public Schools — Delivery Day! Back by popular demand! Join us for a fun action at the Capitol — Deliver Valentines to Lawmakers to send a message of love for our public schools! WPEN partners are invited to join us at 10:30 am on the Capitol steps (State Street entrance) to deliver valentines from our communities to lawmakers. We will gather as a group for photos then deliver cards/Valentines from home to our own elected officials. Those who wish are invited to join us for lunch at noon at the Great Dane after talking to your elected officials. Those who cannot attend in person are encouraged to contact lawmakers on the 16th and include photos or electronic summaries of your I Love My Public Schools week actions to help spread the love! RSVP here

As always, thanks for all you do for Wisconsin students and schools!


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