Welcome to the NEW bi-weekly Wisconsin Public Education Network Action Newsletter, which will be shared on our website at WisconsinNetwork.org/Action-News and easily circulated on social media. 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
- WEAC INTERVIEW
Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) President Ron “Duff” Martin gave an informative and passionate interview to Wisconsin Eye’s Steve Walters on December 3, explaining the statewide educators’ union’s call for a well-organized COVID-19 teaching standard. “They simply have to provide additional resources,” he said of state legislators, “so we can provide the things that are needed.”
- NYGREN RESIGNS
State Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) has resigned from the legislature, where he served as co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee.
- DARLING BECOMES SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE CHAIR
State Senate Majority Leader-elect Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) has appointed Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Falls) to chair the Senate Committee on Education.
- LEGISLATIVE REPUBLICANS’ COVID PROPOSAL
The Assembly GOP Caucus released its COVID-19 proposal on December 1 and included several measures regarding public schools, students, and educators that do not meet the challenges the pandemic has caused, such as requiring a two-thirds vote by local school boards to approve all-virtual or distanced learning. We advocate for local control over local schools.
- GOVERNOR’S BUDGET SESSION ON EDUCATION
We encourage every supporter of public schools in Wisconsin to register for the governor’s budget listening session on schools and education HERE–registration opens TODAY, DECEMBER 9. The session will take place via Zoom on Wednesday, December 16 at 6:00 p.m. We will be providing updates and resources in advance to help make our collective impact as powerful as it can be. Folks are encouraged to express support for the Department of Public Instruction’s budget proposal, which is an equity-minded starting point, and to choose a Vote Public Value that matters to your local community.
- CANDIDATE NOMINATION PAPERS
The 2021 election season is already underway, and the ballots have public schools all over them. It’s time to start downloading, circulating, and signing nomination papers for candidates you care about to get on these ballots.
The non-partisan elections for State Superintendent of Public Instruction will take place on February 16 (primary) and April 6 (general). Declared candidates are Sheila Briggs, Joe Fenrick, Troy Gunderson, Shandowlyon Hendricks-Williams, Deborah Kerr, Steve Krull, and Jill Underly. Click on any of their names to visit their campaign websites, where you should be able to also find their nomination papers for download.
Perhaps most importantly, local school board candidates need to circulate nomination papers to get on their ballots, too. Great public school advocates are always encouraged to run for school board, and if you know someone who’s running, help them by reaching out and circulating their nomination papers. If you have further questions about how this works, reach out to us!
- OUR DIGITAL ACTION PAGE
WisconsinNetwork.org/Digital always contains active action opportunities you can take from home. Currently, it walks you through the steps of an introductory phone all with your newly (re-)elected state representative.
LOCAL ACTION SPOTLIGHT: UPDATES FROM AROUND THE STATE
- ANNUAL WINTER SOCIAL
The Wisconsin Public Education Network winter social and annual meeting took place via Zoom on Monday, December 7, featuring Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a Department of Public Instruction budget update from Erin Fath, local leaders’ updates from Beloit Public Education Network’s Kirah Zeilinger, Fox Cities Advocates 4 Public Education’s Patti Clark-Stojke, and Eau Claire Area School Board President Tim Nordin. The video archive is available here.
- DECEMBER 17 ACTION WORKSHOP
Local-level advocates around the state are invited to RSVP for our final workshop of 2020, where we will build local action plans for the 2021 biannual budget and election advocacy. The workshop is on Thursday, December 17, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. RSVP here.
Those in the Northwest region are encouraged to follow the Northwoods Public Education Coalition, a regional group bringing public school advocates together. For more information, reach out to our NW Regional Organizers Ann or Chris. See the local leader spotlight at the end of this newsletter for more Northwest news.
As we discussed at our winter social, 100% of the local teams who sought Network support for the election saw passage of their districts’ referenda. Voters in Madison passed two school district referenda in the November election, totaling $350 million! To get involved in the Southwest, contact Executive Director Heather.
Patti Clark-Stojke spoke on behalf of the Fox Cities Advocates 4 Public Education at the Network’s winter social, highlighting the group’s robust efforts and success getting informational voter guides into citizens’ hands. See her presentation on the video archive, starting at about the 21:25 mark. If you live in the Northeast region and want to get involved, contact Denise.
Public school supporters in the Beloit area are welcome to join the emergent Beloit Public Education Network at the Beloit Public Schools Listening and Learning Session tonight, December 9, at 6:00 p.m. Details and Zoom link are available here. Kirah Zeilinger’s short presentation at our winter social about Beloit advocacy is here, at about the 13:00 mark. If you want to get involved in advocacy throughout Southeast Wisconsin, contact Jenni.
Spotlight on Tim Nordin, President of the Eau Claire Area School District Board of Education, for putting the lessons we learned in our Despite the Best Intentions book study into action through school policy in Eau Claire. He said:
Through some of the language in this book and the work that we’ve done together, we’ve been able to say, ‘We’re not in this to feel better. We’re in this to do better.’
Check out his story about how the board is combatting “opportunity hoarding” in high school curriculum:
PARTNER & ACTION RESOURCES