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
- DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION ANNOUNCES BUDGET PROPOSALS
State Superintendent Jill Underly and the Department of Public Instruction introduced the agency’s proposals for the 2023-25 state budget, an expansion of Dr. Underly’s and Gov. Evers’s previous announcement of their shared education proposals in early September. The priorities include a crucial increase in special education reimbursement for public schools (45% reimbursement in the first year, 60% in the second, and a roadmap to 90%); increases in revenue limits and per-pupil aid; funding for mental health support; and more. Read our response to this proposed recovery budget here.
- REFERENDA EVERYWHERE
There are over 80 school referendum questions on ballots in Wisconsin this November. Local school districts have increasingly put operating costs, deferred maintenance, and new projects to taxpayers as state funding for public schools has failed to keep pace with inflation and students returned to school this fall with no new spendable dollars from Madison. Referenda have passed at approximately an 80% rate in recent election cycles, with local taxpayers overwhelmingly voting to raise their own property taxes to fill the gaps in funding for their public schools and local students.
- GOV. EVERS ANNOUNCES $90 MILLION FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Governor Evers announced in September that he is allocating $90 million of federal funding to public schools, with one specific target being mental health services. Read more about that investment and a reaction from Dr. Julie Underwood, Dean Emerita of the UW-Madison School of Education, here.
- HEALTHY SCHOOL MEALS FOR ALL INFO SESSION
Join us for a free, virtual information session on the Healthy School Meals for All coalition (and legislative bill) with State Reps. Kristina Shelton and Francesca Hong and State Sen. Chris Larson on Monday, October 10 from 4-5pm. Register in advance to attend: https://secure.everyaction.com/gZz5a6iuE06LnlWD4TxcLA2.
- #TEACHTHETRUTHWI SESSION
October 10-14 is also #TeachTheTruthWI week, and we’re partnering with Wisconsin Faith Leaders for Racial Justice to offer a free workshop from 6-7:30pm on Wednesday, October 12: “Divided By Design.” Join us by registering in advance (https://secure.everyaction.com/WfnYeMFckE6mm5CrlCuYbA2) for a virtual session on the Divided By Design project, aiming to educate students on the history of redlining, housing discrimination, segregation, and racism in Milwaukee and beyond, and to promote age-appropriate curriculum that gives students the freedom to learn our full history in thriving public schools.
- NETWORK SUPPORT AVAILABLE
The Wisconsin Public Education Network is here to support you as you get out the vote, educate your community, organize public education champions, support local school referenda, and more. If you’d like trainings and advice, digital tools, or financial/in-kind support for your local nonpartisan campaigns for public schools this fall—or you just want to be kept in the loop and join the support community—visit our Public Schools Unite Us Action Center and fill out the form to join the campaign!
- YARD SIGNS AND POSITIVE MESSAGES
We have positive, pro-public, nonpartisan yard signs, t-shirts, and other merchandise available. If you’d like to pick up a yard sign, please reach out to your closest regional organizer and let them know what you’d like to display!
- SCHOOL FUNDING RESOURCES
Want some sharable information about how public schools are funded in Wisconsin? Dr. Julie Underwood hosted a virtual workshop in September on school funding basics. Find the slides from that workshop here.
LOCAL ACTION SPOTLIGHT: UPDATES FROM AROUND THE STATE
From our regional organizer, Chris:
Wisconsin public education advocates in the northwoods are building powerful coalitions. Rural Wisconsin organizers are collaborating across geography and issue to support and defend strong public schools for every student. We are proud of our values-based partnership with Progress North and organizers in Northwestern Wisconsin, and we hope you will join us!
School referenda are on the ballot in a number of communities across Southwest Wisconsin. Join the Public Schools Unite Us campaign to be in touch with local teams in Lake Mills, Middleton, Oregon, Verona and others so you can benefit from the shared knowledge and experiences of other teams working on similar issues.
From our regional organizer, Denise:
Yard signs and t-shirts are available! There are a number of referenda happening in NE Wisconsin for the November election. If you know people who haven’t asked for assistance, please let them know and contact Denise Gaumer Hutchison for assistance. We are working in Green Bay, Appleton, Menasha, Pulaski, Rhinelander and a number of other communities. The National Rural Schools Alliance Convention is going to be held in Green Bay in October: the Network team will be speaking and offering information about advocacy for rural school communities. There is still time to sign up to attend.
We are working hard to make sure people are registered to vote and getting out to vote for students and public schools. Please let us know if we can be of assistance.
From our regional organizer, Jenni:
We have sign distribution sites in Milwaukee and Racine! I am thrilled to be hosting the Divided By Design MKE folks in support of the Teach the Truth WI movement. ALL are welcome and encouraged to participate!
Public education champions have been showing up when students need them most, sharing their courage with their communities all over the state, even in the face of mis- and disinformation, partisanship, and vitriol. One example of this: community members in Superior showed up to a school board meeting in late August, speaking in support of their district and in defense of LGBTQ+ students and families. Ultimately, a number of school districts have upheld modern, inclusive curriculum decisions, including Superior and Wauwatosa, thanks in large part to the advocacy of broad coalitions of local parents, educators, students, and community members.
Remember to #BeAVoter this fall!
PARTNER & ACTION RESOURCES