Jan. 8, 2021: Superintendent Forum Follow-Up; Spotlight on Chippewa Falls

See all bi-weekly 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.


    Assembly Bill 1, the COVID-19 relief bill introduced by the Wisconsin GOP, faced a committee vote on Tuesday and was passed through the Assembly on Thursday. The State Senate does not support the bill, nor does Governor Tony Evers. The Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) and the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) have laid out their opposition to the bill for its lack of clear guidelines about in-person learning during the pandemic. The bill proposes taking money from districts that have been in distanced learning for more than 50% of the school year and giving it to parents.

    In Terrence Falk’s article in the Wisconsin Examiner this week titled “The Race to Reopen Schools,” Milwaukee Public Schools Legislative Policy Analyst Chris Thiel says, “It is cheap and easy to write a press release that says, ‘Everyone go back to school.’ The real work is to do your job at the state level and provide the conditions that schools can open safely.” Regarding the Assembly GOP bill headed for a floor vote tomorrow, he says, “It is literally the worst relief package in print in the United States of America.”


    Supporters of Wisconsin’s excellent public schools will hit the ground running in 2021. We have a set of 2021 action resources available on our website to help:
    • BUDGET HQ: Everything you need to know about the 2021-23 state spending proposals, the priorities our kids deserve, and what we can do to help put our public schools at the center of the budget.
    • ELECTION HQ: The one-stop shop of 2021 spring election resources, including a Superintendent Election HQ and some basic information about voting in local school board elections.
    • DIGITAL ACTIONS: This page will continue to be updated with the digital actions you can take right now to rally around well-resourced and equitable public schools in 2021. We are also offering weekly digital office hours on Monday afternoons–for advocates to drop in with ideas and questions about their own digital advocacy strategies.
    • CALENDAR: We have improved our Calendar page to be more intuitive, interactive, and serve as both a schedule of future events and an archive of past events–check it out if there’s something you don’t want to miss!

    Local level advocates from around the state are invited to join us, the ACLU of Wisconsin, and other partners in honing our skills to demand budget justice this spring. The budget workshop series is on Saturday, January 23 at 10:00 a.m. or 11:00 a.m. RSVP here.

    The People’s Maps Commission is holding a public hearing on Fair Maps for those who live in Wisconsin’s 4th Congressional District–covering Milwaukee and some of its suburbs on Thursday, January 14 at 5:00 p.m. Those who live in this district are encouraged to register for the hearing HERE and/or submit written testimony HERE.



    Our forum for the 2021 candidates for State Superintendent of Public Instruction took place on Thursday, January 7. The forum, presented by the Wisconsin Public Education Network and the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, presented all the candidates in this non-partisan election with questions about why they want to hold the state’s highest education office and how they plan to use that office to support strong public schools and promote equity for students. It was a fantastic and issue-oriented event. See our full archive here or watch it on WisconsinEye.

    The candidates for State Superintendent have answered the Wisconsin Public Education Network and League of Women Voters of Wisconsin’s questionnaire. See their answers at our Superintendent Election HQ page.

    As a year that pushed us to our limits ends, the Wisconsin Public Education Network has published a commitment to push back in 2021 and a series of resolutions stating how we can do just that. Among them: Hold elected officials accountable. Reject partisanship that gets in the way of what’s best for kids. Fight for a state budget that invests in closing our gaps. Come together with all who share our goal of taking local level action for statewide impact to ensure that every child in every public school has the resources and supports they need to thrive. Join us!

Northwest Wisconsin

The Northwoods Public Education Coalition, an emergent group of public school advocates in the northwestern part of the state, is meeting on Thursday, January 14 at 6:00 p.m. If you are interested in attending, reach out to our NW Regional Organizers Ann or Chris.

Southwest Wisconsin

Our partners at the Grandparents United for Madison Public Schools (GrUMPS), along with the East Side Progressives, are hosting a virtual forum for Madison School Board candidates and Madison District 16 Alderman candidates next Thursday, January 14, at 6:30 p.m. Register via Zoom here. To get involved in our work in the Southwest, contact Executive Director Heather.

Northeast Wisconsin

We thank Linda Bartlett and others at the League of Women Voters of Greater Green Bay for helping to make our superintendent candidate forum a huge success. Their co-sponsorship helped drive many voters to the event. If you live in the Northeast region and want to get involved with our work, contact Denise.

Southeast Wisconsin

Milwaukee Public Schools has added a dinner program to their Stop, Grab, and Go sites, where meals can be picked up and taken home for any child under the age of 18. We continue to be in awe of the work our public school districts are doing to keep children and families safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you want to get involved in advocacy in Southeast Wisconsin, contact Jenni.


Spotlight on the Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District Board, as we admire their recent open letter to the community in which they urged positivity and appreciation for students and educators in the district who are working extra hard to do exemplary work in the midst of the restrictions COVID-19 has presented. They wrote:

We ask you to join us in showing gratitude to the exemplary staff of the Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District. We believe and see so much evidence of them rising to the occasion as they teach, inspire, love, support, and care for our children and their surroundings.

And we do join you in showing that gratitude to all of those in Chippewa Falls and the rest of Wisconsin who are going above and beyond. We pledge to fight for these students, their excellent public schools, and their dedicated educators in 2021!


About the author: Christian Phelps

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