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Testimony at final Common Core public hearing stretches into seventh hourSubmitted: 10/30/2013
Story By Lex Gray

Testimony at final Common Core public hearing stretches into seventh hour
WAUSAU - Teachers started putting Common Core standards to work in Wisconsin classrooms three years ago.

No one really seemed to pay attention Wisconsin had adopted the standards along with 44 other states, in part to qualify for billions of dollars in federal Race to the Top grants.

But in the last few months, legislators from Wisconsin and other states started looking more closely at Common Core.

Governor Scott Walker told reporters in late September he believed Wisconsin could do better than federal Common Core standards.

Over the last few weeks, special Senate and Assembly committees have held four public hearings to decide if that's true.

The last of those four hearings happened in Wausau Wednesday, with testimony lasting more than seven hours.

The debate about Common Core, across the nation and in Wausau, has been marked by a different kind of bipartisanship it's not liberals on one side, conservatives on the other. Both sides are both for and against the standards.

Michael Petrilli is the executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C.

He spoke in favor of Common Core standards.

"There [are] plenty of Republicans who like the idea of higher standards and tougher accountability," Petrilli said. "From our perspective, the Common Core standards are exactly that."

Pete Biolo, a retired teacher and the vice chairman of the Oneida County Republican Party, doesn't necessarily disagree with that. He takes issue with Common Core because of federal involvement.

"It's a process or a program that has its roots at the federal level, and the federal government, in passing it, made federal monies available," Biolo said. "Any time you have federal monies available to something, you have strings attached."

Petrilli rejects that idea.

"I think the benefits of having better standards, better tests, outweigh those concerns," Petrilli said.

Biolo disagrees, and wants Wisconsin to create its own set of standards, to get the federal government out. Governor Walker has also recently said the state could do better on its own.

"If the governor can do better than these standards, I think that's great," Petrilli said. "I think what he would find is if he went through the process of recreating standards, they'd come out quite the same as the Common Core."

The Senate and Assembly's special committees are expected to make a recommendation in November about what Wisconsin should do about Common Core.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

FOREST COUNTY - Bringing your pet along to watch fireworks might seem like a fun way to spend the Fourth of July, but you could be doing more harm than good.

July 5th is one of the busiest days of the year for most animal shelters.

That's because fearful pets try to escape the bangs and flashes from fireworks and end up lost.

Forest County Humane Society president Jay Schaefer says don't let yourself add to your pet's stress.

Play it down, and make the fireworks a good thing with positive talk and treats.

"They're reading cues from us constantly. So be careful of your body language and the cues you're giving them. If you act like fireworks are a big scary thing they're gonna be like, 'oh my god fireworks are scary,'" says Schaefer.

Exercise can be another way to calm your pet before the big light show.

Burning off the energy earlier in the day may help your pet go to sleep early.

"Take them for a jog on the Fourth of July. I know it's hectic, but do something so they're not all amped up at night when the fireworks go off," says Schaefer.

Like many humans, pets like the smell of lavender.

You can try diffusing the scent around the house to put your pet at ease.

Make sure you have a well-fitting collar and identification tag on your pet.

If flashes are too bright, you might want to close the curtains.

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WAUSAU - Every year, firefighters around the country ask their communities to fill up boots with money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Wausau Fire Department kicked off its "Fill the Boot" campaign Tuesday morning.

The fire department will be at local events throughout the summer to collect donations.

The fundraiser helps with research and treatment for neuromuscular diseases for kids and adults.

"It's kind of a rewarding part of the job. Most of what we do is off camera, you don't really get to see all aspects of the fire department. It is a great chance for us to get out there and see all the programs we are involved in to help,"says firefighter Matt Tormohlen.

The fundraiser also gives Wausau-area kids the chance to go to a MDA camp.

15-year-old Roy Thorson lives with spinal muscular atrophy and has gone to the camp for the last ten years.

You can find him collecting "Fill the Bucket" donations right alongside the firefighters this summer.

"It's nice to see the generosity of the public. It's nice to the firefighters willing to put their times towards this. It's just cool to see a group come together for a good cause," says Thorson.

You can also send in "Fill the Boot" donations online.

See link below.

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MADISON - Democratic state Senator Kathleen Vinehout has registered to run for governor, the first step in officially launching a campaign.

Vinehout, of Alma, filed the paperwork on June 14 to register a campaign committee.

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MADISON - Republican legislative leaders and Governor Scott Walker are once again set to meet as a deal to pass the state's $76 billion budget remains elusive.

Walker was to meet privately Wednesday with Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

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MERRILL - Six years ago, Merrill promoted the River Bend Trail across the city to try to get people to use it. Now, the trail sees more than 100 people every day and is scheduled for more expansion.

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MADISON - Budget talks between Wisconsin state Assembly and Senate Republicans have broken down.

On Tuesday, leaders from both sides called each other's positions on how to pay for road construction projects "laughable." A meeting with Republican leaders abruptly ended after 40 minutes.

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ADAMS COUNTY - Police are asking for help finding an Illinois man who disappeared while out for a walk in Adams County.

Fifty-nine-year-old William Sheeran was last seen near a boat landing on Browndeer Avenue in the Adams County Town of Monroe.

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