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
- PUBLIC SCHOOLS WEEEK UNDERWAY
Wisconsin is in the middle of PUBLIC SCHOOLS WEEK, Feb. 27-Mar. 1, 2023! Wisconsin Public Education Network partners kicked off the week at the capitol on Monday morning with a special meeting, where we heard from State Assembly Education Committee leaders Rep. Joel Kitchens and Rep. Kristina Shelton, as well as former State Rep. Sondy Pope and Executive Director of the Office of the State Superintendent Tom McCarthy. Public school champions then delivered notes of support for public schools to legislators’ offices. Check out this Public Schools Week Proclamation from Gov. Evers! If you’re celebrating public schools week, be sure to let us know so we can amplify your demonstrations!
- BUDGET PROCESS PROCEEDS
Gov. Evers released his executive state budget proposal on Feb. 14, which requests more than $2.6 billion in new funding for schools and an increase in the state’s reimbursement of special education costs to 60%. Wisconsin Public Education Network and the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools reacted to the governor’s proposal, calling his priorities “common sense, affordable proposals that meet the needs our kids have now and will start to close the gaps between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ across the state.
- PRIMARY ELECTION CONCLUDES
The spring general election will take place on April 4, 2023. In February, Wisconsin voters narrowed the State Supreme Court election down to two candidates: Janet Protasiewicz and Dan Kelly; some communities across Wisconsin also narrowed school board and other local elections through primary voting, if applicable. There are 81 referenda questions in 67 districts on ballots this spring as public schools continue to require local taxpayers to fill the enormous gaps left by the state. We strongly urge all public school champions to visit our Election HQ and Referenda Support hub, to get to know the candidates on their ballots, and to be voters this spring!
- CAP TIMES LETTER: PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHERS ARE COSTING DISTRICTS MILLIONS
This excellent letter in the Cap Times by WAES Board Member Michael Walsh outlines the severe cost of privatization to local public schools. “I noticed in my property tax bill letter that $9.2 million was diverted from the Madison Metropolitan School District to pay for unaccountable private voucher schools and independent charter schools. Just five years ago the loss to the district was $2.6 million,” he writes.
- A WARNING IN IDAHO: DON’T BECOME WISCONSIN
An Idaho-based journalist, Rod Gramer, recently published a story in the Idaho Capital Sun titled The Wisconsin Public Schools Story: A cautionary tale for Idaho. “One state to study is Wisconsin, the first state to pass modern taxpayer-supported subsidies for private and religious schools. Beginning with the end in mind, it’s easy to see that Idaho’s public schools will be irreparably harmed if we head down the same privatization road as Wisconsin, which has been steadily privatizing its schools for three decades,” he writes.
- DENISE GAUMER HUTCHISON APPOINTED CHAIR OF WISCONSIN WOMEN’S COUNCIL
Governor Evers has appointed Denise Gaumer Hutchison as the new chair of the nonpartisan Wisconsin Women’s Council. Among other roles, Denise is Wisconsin Public Education Network’s Northeast Regional Organizer! We congratulate Denise on this appointment and thank her immensely for her ongoing advocacy for the women, girls, families, students, and public schools of Wisconsin.
- COLUMN: LET THE PEOPLE’S WILL PREVAIL IN 2023
Our Director of Digital Organizing and Communications, Christian Phelps, published a column in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram in mid-February on the need to deliver a pro-public education budget and honor the democratic will of Wisconsin’s people. “Advocates for strong, just and vibrant public schools can and should be the loudest voices in every room this year. We can still make absolutely clear where Wisconsin’s majority stands, regardless of whether lawmakers listen. We must make it impossible to be unaware: anything short of fully- and equitably-funded public schools in every corner of Wisconsin is unpopular, undemocratic, and unacceptable,” he writes.
- ASHLAND AREA COLUMN: IT’S TIME TO FIX WISCONSIN SCHOOL FUNDING
Another excellent column from our team: Northwest Regional Organizer Chris Hambuch-Boyle and Ashland-based Wisconsin Civic Learning Coalition founder Kate Ullman co-authored a column in the Ashland Daily Press on the inequities of school funding in Wisconsin. “Ask Wisconsin legislators to fix Wisconsin’s broken public school funding formula and re-invest in our public schools. Our children are depending on us,” they write.
- PENNSYLVANIA COURT RULES SCHOOL FUNDING UNCONSTITUTIONAL
A landmark lawsuit in Pennsylvania culminated in a ruling that the state funds public schools in a way that treats its population inequitably — and that this is illegal.
- PANEL ON PRIVATIZATION FOR NEBRASKA LEGISLATORS
Our executive director, Heather DuBois Bourenane, recently joined a panel hosted by OpenSky Nebraska for the Nebraska legislature with Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education and Beth Lewis from SOS Arizona to discuss the risks of allowing public dollars to be spent on private education. The panel is available on Youtube.
- FOX VALLEY RADIO INTERVIEW ON EDUCATION BUDGET
Our director of digital organizing and communications, Christian Phelps, joined founding member of the Fox Cities Advocates for Public Education and Appleton School Board member Jim Bowman for an interview on “Outside the Box” with Ben Cominos on WHBY to discuss public education, school funding, and the state budget on Feb. 28. Listen here.
- BONUS: BEAUTIFUL PUBLIC SCHOOL STORIES
For Public Schools Week, we launched the third video in the PUBLIC SCHOOLS UNITE US SERIES, created by Eau Claire-based award-winning videographers Micah Davis and Steve Betchkal of Soul Shine Creative Studios. Watch them below!
- JOIN THE BUDGET ACTION NETWORK
Be a budget ambassador by visiting our Budget HQ at WisconsinNetwork.org/budget. Get to know the state budget process, understand the priority changes that can deliver real change for Wisconsin kids, and get your community involved. Sign our petition to join the Budget Action Network, a group of insiders for action alerts and opportunities, and keep the snowball rolling with our Budget Ambassador Toolkit. If you didn’t make it to our March 1 Budget Action Workshop, be sure to reach out to our team and check out the archive when it’s ready. Public schools unite us! We have the resources, and Wisconsin demands what students deserve. No excuses!
- EDUCATION VOTE TRACKER IS UP
For the second legislative cycle, our Education Vote Tracker is live and tracking important education bills through the capitol. Visit WisconsinNetwork.org/Tracker to see what bills are on the floor, what they really mean, how various lobbyists are registering on them, and how your lawmakers vote.
- NATIONAL TRACKER ALSO AVAILABLE
Public Funds Public Schools has launched its 2023 bill tracker, available here.
- #VOTEPUBLIC SUPPORT AVAILABLE
Our Election HQ is a hub of resources for referendum teams, nonpartisan GOTV campaigns, and public education champions involved in school board elections. Our work is nonpartisan and non-candidate-affiliated, and all about putting students first — and most importantly, it works. We hope you’ll visit the hub and apply for direct support (included limited mini-grant funds) as needed!
- CALENDAR OF EVENTS AND 2023 SUMMER SUMMIT
Our calendar is the home of public-facing events (and archives from past events), including some especially exciting ones. One in particular: please save the date for the 2023 SUMMER SUMMIT, AUGUST 10 IN SOUTH MILWAUKEE! Our host district is thrilled to welcome public school champions from around the state, and info and registration will be up soon at WisconsinNetwork.org/Summit.
CHANGEMAKER APPRECIATION: SPOTLIGHT ON ‘EDUCATORS AMPLIFIED’
Have you heard about Educators Amplified? It’s a podcast that is made for and by educators, right in our Summer Summit host district of South Milwaukee.
The podcast offers real stories from experts in education to share what‘s really going on in our public schools.
Listener review: “I worry about schools and what will happen to the teaching profession, but listening… made me hopeful.”
Listen to their podcast here: educatorsamplified.podbean.com
And take note: there’s an Educators Amplified event this Saturday, March 4!
Hear from frontline educators and parent advocates about what is really going on in schools. Anyone invested in the success of our public schools and the children who attend them are welcome!
Saturday, March 4, 2023
10-11am WEAC Region 7 Office
13805 W. Burleigh Road
Brookfield, WI 53005
Learn more and register here.
About Hallie & Joanna:
Hallie has been teaching for 12 years and is considered a Millennial educator, Joanna has been teaching for 26 years and is a Latina educator. Together, for 10 years, they have been creating, implementing, and evolving an alternative education program that focuses on well-being and academics within the classroom.
They are ready to amplify the stories of what’s really going on in education because they know that without educators’ voices, the transformation that needs to happen within the profession will not happen. They offer a space where you are safe, understood, and valued.
A GREAT EXAMPLE OF TELLING YOUR PUBLIC SCHOOL STORIES AND GETTING THEM OUT INTO THE WORLD. We love to see it!
PARTNER & ACTION RESOURCES