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NEWS STORIES

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

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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
25th Senate candidates differ over mining law, agree on importance of broadband and educationSubmitted: 10/31/2014

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RHINELANDER - The mining issue might decide the winner of the 25th State senate district. The huge district covers a large portion of northern Wisconsin stretching from parts of Vilas County to parts of Barron County. Two types of mines have caused controversy in the district. A proposed taconite mine in the north, and sand mines in the west.

Gogebic Taconite is proposing a four-mile open pit taconite mine in Ashland and Iron County. Project leaders say the project will lead to 700 direct jobs, as well as numerous spillover jobs because of the construction of the mine.

Republicans rewrote and passed the state's mining law in 2013. Many believe the rule change weakened water protections, but Republican candidate Dane Deutsch doesn't agree.

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Milwaukee police vote 'no confidence' in chiefSubmitted: 10/31/2014

MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee police have taken a vote that expresses no confidence in their chief after he fired a white officer who shot and killed a black man in a downtown park.

Union president Mike Crivello announced Friday that about 99 percent of the votes expressed no confidence in Chief Edward Flynn.

He did not say how many of the union's 1,600 officers voted, only that it was a majority.

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Drivers surprised by icy roadsSubmitted: 10/31/2014

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RHINELANDER - Drivers got an icy surprise as they hit the road this morning.

People needed to show a little caution as they got used to driving on snow and ice again.

Some accidents tied up traffic for a time. In Wausau, one lane of Highway 29 was shut down near Highway 51.

An accident caused the problem shortly after 4:00 a.m. The road was fully open again around 6:00 a.m..

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Homeless charity drive needs helpSubmitted: 10/31/2014

RHINELANDER - The Northwoods Alliance for Temporary Housing needs your help taking care of the homeless. The alliance helps homeless people in Lincoln, Langlade, Forest, Oneida, and Vilas counties. Organizers just started the Everybody Deserves Shelter Campaign. Local businesses are helping run the campaign.

"We are working at establishing businesses ,within our hopefully five counties that we serve, that will offer customers and employees the chance to make a nominal one dollar donation," said NATH Executive Director Tammy Modic.

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Sex offenders must follow strict rules on HalloweenSubmitted: 10/31/2014

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RHINELANDER - Sex offenders on probation or parole need to follow strict rules on Halloween. It's part of the state Department of Corrections' trick-or-treat safety plan.

Sex offenders need to stay home tonight. They can't wear any costumes or have any Halloween decorations up. Their porch lights also need to be off during trick-or-treating hours.

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Man gets 40 year prison sentence for shooting deputySubmitted: 10/31/2014

MEDFORD - A 29-year-old man will spend 40 years in prison for shooting a Taylor County sheriff's deputy after getting sentenced in court Friday.

Police say Alexander Schneider told them he aimed for the deputy's face when he shot him in September 2013.

The deputy went to Schneider's house in Rib Lake to talk with him about a violated restraining order. Schneider refused to come outside. He then shot at the deputy through the front door.

He will be on extended supervision for 20 years once he gets out of prison.

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School District of Rhinelander passes 2014-15 budget; sees increase in enrollmentSubmitted: 10/31/2014

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RHINELANDER - The School District of Rhinelander will get a little bit more funding from property taxes this year. Rhinelander passed a referendum in 2013.

The district gets 4 million dollars per year through 2016.

On Monday the district approved the tax rate and mill levy for the year. Taxpayers will pay $10.99 per thousand dollars of property values.

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