Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Council on Library and Network Development Council Recruiting New Members!

The Wisconsin Council on Library and Network Development, which advises State Superintendent Tony  Evers on issues related to libraries, is now accepting applications for new members! The full description, which includes information on how to apply for Council membership, is available below. There are currently four vacant professional seats and one vacant public member seat. 
Wisconsin Council on Library and Network Development (COLAND)
Created by the Wisconsin State Legislature in 1979, the Council on Library and Network Development (COLAND) advises the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (DPI) to ensure that all state citizens have access to library and information services.
The 19-member council, appointed by the governor, functions as a forum through which librarians and members of the public identify, study, and collect public testimony on issues affecting Wisconsin libraries and other information services. Members serve three-year terms.
Organizations interested in nominating individuals to serve on COLAND, as well as individuals interested in self-nominating to serve on COLAND, should contact the Governor’s office at (608) 266-1212 or complete the application form found on the Governor’s appointments site.

Council findings are communicated as advisory recommendations to the state superintendent, governor, and Legislature.
Ensuring Access
Key responsibilities:
·         promoting free access to knowledge, information, and diversity of ideas by all Wisconsin residents;
·         facilitating the most effective use of library resources through interlibrary cooperation among all types of libraries;
·         promoting cooperation and resource sharing among public libraries, school libraries, other types of libraries, and related agencies; and
·         planning, coordinating, evaluating, and setting statewide priorities for the development of networks to enable library cooperation and resource sharing within Wisconsin.
COLAND holds open meetings six times per year and conducts hearings on library policies and publications. Members offer advice as part of the DPI biennial budget request and provide testimony on state and federal legislation. Council members also provide advice to DPI on publications, policies, and products, such as
·         BadgerLink, electronic information resources
·         WISCAT, statewide library catalog
·         WISCAT, interlibrary loan
·         Internet policy

Representation on COLAND

COLAND works closely with the DPI Division for Libraries and Technology. Membership includes nine professional members who represent public, school, academic, special, and private libraries as well as library educators. The remaining ten council positions are held by public members with a demonstrated interest in libraries or other types of information services. COLAND members serve three year terms, ending on July 1 of each year, and are appointed by the Governor.
Members of the library community and the general public are welcome to attend council meetings and to address the group or a committee on specific questions under consideration. To ensure that adequate time will be available, requests should be submitted to the council chairperson or appropriate committee head three weeks before a meeting.
Wisconsin's Libraries
Wisconsin has a wealth of library and information resources, which include:
·         79 public and private academic libraries
·         389 public libraries with more than 450 locations
·         2,015 public K-12 school library media centers
·         750 private K-12 school library media centers
·         451 special libraries (includes government, health, corporate, and organizational libraries)
COLAND is committed to making these resources accessible to the state's residents through library cooperation and resource sharing.
For more information about the council and its work, or for a schedule of meetings, contact the Division for Libraries and Technology at 608-266-2205.

Monday, September 19, 2016

State Agencies Submit Budget Requests to Governor Walker

State agencies submitted their 2017-19 state budget request to Governor Walker last week.  Agencies were instructed by the Governor to submit zero-growth budget requests, which he will use to craft the budget bill he introduces in February.

Requests that may be of interest to WEMTA include:

Educational Communications Board

Wisconsin Media Lab Funding: ECB is requesting $650,000 in state funding per year to reestablish their work licensing and producing K-12 educational media content. State funding for the Wisconsin Media Lab was cut in the 2015-17 state budget.

In response to a new requirement to submit a plan to reduce the agency budget by 5%,  ECB warned: “In the last two years, the Agency has streamlined, reduced and discontinued services to the point that there is no practical way to trim its budget further. The cascading effects of more cuts in any appropriation will result in ECB failing to meet its mission.”

Department of Public Instruction

DPI submitted the first of two budget requests on Thursday. In the coming months, DPI will release the second half of their budget request, which will include school funding provisions as well as strategies to address school staffing shortages, school-based mental health, and the achievement gap. The request submitted on Thursday includes:

WISE Suite Data Systems for Public Libraries: DPI requests a statutory change that would allow them to use funding for the Student information system (WISEdata)  and the Longitudinal data system (WISEdash) to establish and maintain a public library information system. Essentially, the request is to allow DPI to use the WISE suite of data systems that is currently used to collect data for students in public, independent charter and private schools, for data collections pertaining to public libraries. DPI is not requesting additional funding related to this proposed change.

Public Library System Aid: DPI requests an increase of $16,377,100 in 2018 and $17,004,900 in 2019, to fund public library system aid.

Newsline for the Blind: DPI requests increases of $16,900 in 2018 and $35,300 in 2019 to maintain the current level of services for Newsline for the Blind.

Library Service Contracts: DPI requests an increase of $3,200 in 2018 and $7,100 in 2019 to fully fund the estimated costs of the library service contracts.

Grants for National Teacher Certification or Master Educator License: DPI requests an increase of $284,300 in 2018 and $303,700 in 2019, to encourage more teachers who are nationally board certified, or who hold a Wisconsin master educator license, to teach in high poverty schools. This request would provide increased grant amounts to those certified educators who teach in high poverty districts, with a greater differential for those who teach in high poverty schools in the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) district.

Board of Commissioners of Public Lands

BCPL requested a cost-to-continue budget with no major program or personnel changes.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Study Committee on Student Data Eyes Next Steps

The Study Committee on School Data will meet on September 14 in the State Capitol.  The full agenda is below. As you will see, one of the agenda items is a discussion of a memo created by the Legislative Council that outlines possible next steps the Committee could take.

Some of the legislative options presented to the Committee in Memo 1 (which is linked to below) include:
·         Creating a Student Data Privacy Officer dedicated to maintaining the security of student data;
·         Requiring DPI to create and publish a data inventory of the student data elements it collects;
·         Prohibiting DPI from collecting any new student data element, except as required by state or federal law, unless certain conditions are met;
·         Adding a statement of legislative intent to state law regarding student data privacy and security;
·         Prohibiting entities that operate educational apps and online education services or websites from collecting and using student data for unauthorized purposes;
·         Requiring DPI to retain student data in its longitudinal database indefinitely, as under current practice, or for at least a specified length of time, such as 15 years;
·         Requiring DPI to dispose of student data in its longitudinal database after a specified length of time, which would prohibit the current practice of indefinite retention;
·         Requiring DPI to give students and families electronic copies of certain records upon request;
·         Requiring DPI to make available a “data backpack” option for students and families by allowing them to identify certain records that DPI would be required to maintain, in electronic form, on behalf of the student;
·         Require DPI to develop a model policy regarding ownership of and access to student data, and to provide training and assistance to local school districts regarding such policies.

Study Committee on School Data, 10 am, Wed, Sept. 14, 412-E

Presentation on Longitudinal Student Data:
  • Robert Meyer, Research Professor, Wisconsin Center for Education Research
  • Eric Camburn, Professor, Dept. of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, UW-Madison
  • Eric Grodsky, Professor, Dept. of Sociology, UW-Madison.
Presentation on Student Data Policy Options:
  • Benjamin Silberglitt, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, CedarLabs, LLC.
Presentation by Third-Party Vendor:
  • Doug Mesecar, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships, IO Education.
Next Meeting: Thursday, November 17.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Assembly Republicans Unveil 2017-18 Legislative Agenda

Assembly Republicans unveiled their legislative agenda for the 2017-18 session earlier today. It focuses on three key areas: improving the economy, expanding opportunities, and building strong families and safe communities.

The agenda lays out a broad framework for potential legislation next session, including a significant number of education initiatives. A copy of the full report can be viewed here, and highlights that may be of interest to WEMTA include the following:

1:1 Learning Initiative

Assembly Republicans will make sure every high school freshman is provided a computer or tablet so that every single student may connect to the outside world. Our future workforce needs to be tech savvy and ready to grow our economy. We understand technology is changing the way our schools operate; students use fewer textbooks and have more online assignments and readings. To make sure students are able to access the internet on their provided computer or tablet, we will also look to increase the ability of students to check-out mobile hotspots or begin providing Wi-Fi capabilities on school buses.

Elimination of the Position of State Treasurer

Assembly Republicans strive to make government as efficient as possible, always keeping in mind the importance of being good stewards of taxpayer dollars. Many
responsibilities of the Wisconsin State Treasurer have been relieved or transferred to other departments. The position’s remaining responsibilities could be fulfilled by other means. It’s time we eliminate this unnecessary office to save money and reduce the size of government. In order to accomplish this goal, we need to change the constitution. The legislature has already completed a successful first consideration of this change and we will look to take up a second consideration, then leaving voters with the final approval.

Broadband Access for all Students

In today’s world, access to high speed internet is essential for all students, but is significantly limited in many rural parts of the state. Assembly Republicans will explore unique ways to make the internet available; ideas include using school buses or providing funding to issue hotspots to students.

Meeting the Challenges of Teaching in an Urban Environment

The Task Force on Urban Education heard from many administrators and educators that special training is needed for anyone looking to teach in an urban environment. Every instructor should be trained in how to teach reading, regardless of their license category, and college programs should be specifically tailored for teachers looking to enter a more diverse environment.

STEM, Computer Science, and Robotics

Early exposure to math and science can set students up for a lifetime of success. Increasing access to computer science in our classrooms will be key to developing our 21st century workforce and offers great potential to work in STEM-related fields. Assembly Republicans will look to encourage greater access to computer science for students, including fun and engaging activities like robotics competitions. Increasing the number of students involved in STEM coursework and hands-on activities will help students develop valuable technical skills, confidence, and teamwork, and help our workforce meet the demands of a new economy.

Minimum Aid Payments for School Districts

There are significant flaws in our school funding formula that harm some rural school districts. We will explore options for providing financial assistance to the high property value districts, particularly rural, lake districts, that receive either “no-aid” or “primary aid only.” This could help make the funding formula fairer for certain northern districts.

Teach our Foundational Documents

To prepare students to be active, engaged and informed members of society, we should ensure that the texts that shaped our nation- the Federalist Papers, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence - are taught in every Wisconsin classroom. Assembly
Republicans will also look to gradually increase the metric for what is considered a passing score on the required civics exam.

Zones of Innovation

The constraints, regulations, and red tape school districts face make it difficult to be innovative in the way they educate and prepare our students for life after graduation.
By supporting zones of innovation, we could allow a school district or a combination of school districts to ask for an exemption from statutes, except those relating to the health and safety of our students, in order to try out a new, innovative policy for a limited period of time. If these new ideas or innovations prove successful, they can be replicated in other districts. Assembly Republicans will explore what zones of innovation could look like in our state to give school districts additional options for giving students the tools they need to succeed.

Increase Cooperation Among School Districts

Assembly Republicans would like to create incentives for school districts to coordinate their administrative functions. Cooperation on administrative tasks would streamline operations and save districts money while also maintaining the identity, pride, and autonomy of individual districts.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Governor Walker Announces New BadgerNet Contracts, $9 million in TEACH Grants

Governor Walker announced changes to the BadgerNet Converged Network (BCN) contracts today as well as new grant opportunities within the TEACH program. 

Governor Walker announced the following changes aimed at increasing capacity and lowering costs:

  • Starting November 1, 2016 current BCN customers will see a 7% decrease in costs on their current BCN service rates at 1.5 megabytes per second and above.  
  • Once the new contracts take effect in February, customers will have access to higher bandwidth and lower costs due to the new negotiated rates. Walker says that once upgrades are made,  the total for BCN customers will exceed 400 gigabytes of capacity compared to the current 90 gigabytes of installed bandwidth capacity.
  • TEACH educational agencies are eligible for a bandwidth increase at no additional cost. This change retroactively took effect on July 1, 2016. 

“The new broadband contract we’re announcing today dramatically improves the quality of service to users. Schools and local governments throughout Wisconsin will have the ability to utilize this contract and potentially save money. Ultimately, this enhances the quality of education for our students, as well as the quality of local government services for our taxpayers," said Walker in a statement issued by his office. 

Read Walker's full announcement here.