Thursday, April 23, 2015

Assembly Republicans Announce Plans for Badger Exam

Assembly Republicans held a press conference this morning to announce their plans for addressing challenges with the implementation of the smarter balanced assessment, also known as the Badger Exam, which they compared to the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.  Assembly leaders say they want to make sure that performance data from the test, which many students have opted out of,  is not used for school or teacher evaluations.

Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) said the Assembly Committee on Education will vote on Assembly Bill 78 next week and expect the bill to be voted on by the full Assembly shortly thereafter.  The Senate passed their version of the bill  unanimously in March.

AB 78 would prohibit the Department of Public Instruction from issuing a school accountability report for the 2014−15 school year and delays the educator effectiveness evaluations for teachers and principals until the 2015-16 school year. Both of these evaluations would have included performance data from the smarter balanced assessment.

Governor Walker’s proposed state budget would also prohibit the use of the smarter balanced assessment in Wisconsin.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Elementary and Secondary Education Act Digital Learning Amendment Approved

Congratulations! Your voice was heard!

From The International Society for Technology in Education

On Wednesday, the senate committee that has jurisdiction over federal education programs listened to your voice and voted to include a dedicated digital learning program to its version of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Your letters were a critical element in passing the Innovative Technology Expands Children’s Horizons (I-TECH) program.

ITSTE worked with Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to craft the I-TECH program, which would replace the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program. The I-TECH program would fund digital learning integration with a significant emphasis on professional development. In fact, 50 percent of funds allocated under I-TECH to school districts would be dedicated to professional development for digital learning.

Passage of this program demonstrates strong support from both Republicans and Democrats for digital learning, a rarity in an era when it is difficult to find common ground on anything. This digital learning victory is just one step in a very long process, which includes full Senate approval, passage of a House version of ESEA, and a final version approved by both chambers and the president.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Contact Your State Legislators TODAY about the BCPL and Common School Fund!

Please call and email your state  legislators TODAY and share how important the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) and the Common School Fund are to your students. The Joint Finance Committee begins voting on the budget this week and it is vital they hear from every WEMTA member about importance of BCPL and the need to maintain its staffing, funding and investment authority. 

They need to see us, hear us, and understand how important both the Common School Fund and the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands are to the school libraries and communities they represent.

Below are talking points to use during a phone call or email.  If you are not sure who your representative is go to:


Since statehood, the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) has managed school trust lands and constitutionally created trust funds for the benefit of public education.  One of these trusts is the Common School Fund.
  • Common School Fund earnings are distributed annually to public schools libraries by BCPL. The Common School Fund represents the sole source of state funding for public school libraries. For many school districts, this is the only money available for library materials including books, newspapers and periodicals, web-based resources, and computer hardware and software.
  • Thanks to sound stewardship by BCPL,  this year, Wisconsin School Libraries received a record $35.5 million.
  • The BCPL generates earnings for the Common School Fund by investing in community projects across the state through the State Trust Fund Loan Program. BCPL has invested more than $1.1 billion dollars in local communities, including over $220 million in economic development projects over the last ten years. These funds help support strong communities by investing in needed infrastructure like new fire trucks and snow plows and  road and sewer projects. 
  • Not only does BCPL give much back to Wisconsin communities, it does so without using taxpayer dollars. BCPL is entirely funded by program revenue.
  • Please support the important work of the BCPL in our communities and ensure that their staffing, funding, and investment authority remains unchanged.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Urgent! Action Needed on Elementary and Secondary Education Act

URGENT: If you support school libraries, NOW is the time (not later, not tomorrow, but RIGHT NOW) to contact your Senator to help save them.  We won’t have a better chance than this for years. 
The Senate HELP Committee will begin voting on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) on Tuesday, April 14 at 10 am.  School libraries are NOT already included in that bill, so we need to pass an amendment to fix that.  Even our paltry Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) funding has been cut.  Senator Whitehouse (D-RI) has agreed to offer an amendment calling for an effective school library program to be part of the bill…..but he needs at least 13 votes to prevail in the Committee. Your Senator is on that Committee and we badly need them to be one of those 13.  Unless you ask Your Senator for their vote, we won’t get it and NOW is the time….
Call your Senator right now.  Ask whoever answers for the “education staffer.”  Tell them, or their voice mail if necessary, how important school librarians are to students’ education and that the Senator needs to tell Senator Whitehouse NOW that they will support his “school library amendment” to ESEA.
PLEASE CALL NOW and get anybody else who cares about school libraries or education in your state to call as well.
If you are from the following states, you need to call this Senator NOW
Wisconsin call Senator Baldwin at 202-224-5653

Talking Points:
Point 1: While reading and books are mainstays of the school library program, today’s effective school library programs are also sophisticated learning environments that provide the education and necessary skills to succeed in college and the workplace.
Point 2: Across the United States, studies have demonstrated that students in schools with effective school library programs learn more, get better grades, and score higher on standardized tests than their peers in schools without such resources.
Point 3: NCES data reveals that approximately 8,830 public schools across the nation do not have a school library and for those schools that do have a library, nearly 17,000 schools do not have a full or part-time state-certified school librarian on staff.
Point 4: Effective school libraries:
1. Are staffed by a state-certified school librarian;
2. Have up-to-date books, materials, equipment and technology;
3. Include regular collaboration between classroom teachers and school librarians to assist with development and implementation of the curriculum; and
4. Support the development of digital literacy skills.