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


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
What We're Working On Submitted: 08/24/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

39-year-old Mark Spietz is accused of breaking into and stealing items from the home where Ashlee Martinson is believed to have killed her mother and stepfather in early March of 2017. We'll bring you details from Oneida County court where Spietz's trial is taking place.

We'll bring you local reaction to the Wisconsin Ethics Commission's vote in favor of allowing members to make political donations.

And the Northwoods United Way hopes to encourage natural working leaders to bring working skills into their community. We'll take you to Leaderfest in Harshaw where the goal was to help people grow professionally and personally.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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WASHINGTON - Donald Trump's new Wisconsin women coalition includes some of the most powerful politicians in the state, and two who were caught up in a highly publicized investigation into Gov. Scott Walker's county office.

The unveiling of the statewide group Wednesday comes as polls show Trump trailing Democrat Hillary Clinton overall in Wisconsin and among women.

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PELICAN LAKE - Many college students are heading back to campus soon. But for two Northwoods natives who just graduated, they wanted to come back home and start their own business.

Mike Fowler and Weston Lowe brought their diplomas back to the Pelican Lake this summer with a mission to start a new business.

"This year we both finished school and decided it was time to continue this and expand," said owner and operator Weston Lowe.

The 22 and 23-year old friends have been working together since high school. To make a living they have now started their own business, Pelican Piers. It's a dock and lift removal system.

"I took it upon myself and the help of my business partner, Mike to create something that would make it possible to live in the Northwoods and make a living," said Lowe.

Removing docks and lifts can damage the shorelines. Both Fowler and Lowe wanted to avoid destroying the beauty of the Northwoods.

"With the shoreline deteriorating every year, this will help. We can set the lift on the shore and we don't have to drag it and knock rocks off into the water after people have paid to get that fixed," said owner and operator Mike Fowler.

The easiest way for them to maintain the shorelines was to buy a 7,000 pound tri-toon. This machine simply lifts, moves and then sets down the equipment safely on the shoreline.

"In the bed, you can see the black part of the boat, that's the forks. They extend out and we can pick up any boat lift, any dock and set it on your shore without destroying your riff raff," said Fowler.

Getting their business started at such a young age has had its challenges, like with funding for their barge. But staying in the Northwoods has made it worth it.

"The freedom of owning my own business and being able to be out on the lake everyday working," said Lowe.

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HARSHAW - A lot of people like to separate their work life and personal life.

The Northwoods United Way hopes to encourage natural working leaders to bring those skills into their community. 

It held Leaderfest in Harshaw Wednesday.

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RHINELANDER - A $15 million dollar loan could help the company which operates Rhinelander's paper mill, Expera Specialty Solutions, expand operations to the former Printpack building on Kemp Street.

Oneida County leaders are confident the plan will work.

They believe in the proposal because a similar loan helped a different Rhinelander company grow to become a successful business.

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MADISON - Unemployment fell in most of Wisconsin's largest cities and counties last month.

New data the state Department of Workforce Development released Wednesday shows unemployment dropped in 30 of the state's 32 largest cities from June to July. Mount Pleasant and Racine were the only two cities that showed an increase. Racine had the highest unemployment of any city at 7.2 percent, up from 6.9 percent in June.

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WOODRUFF - The DNR wants your help to find out who poached three deer in Oneida County this week.

Two antlered bucks and a buck fawn ended up on the side of Highway 47 between Walter Drive and Forest Trail early Tuesday morning.  All three were shot in the head.

"Fairly rare, I would say we have seen it before but it's fairly uncommon to see a situation like this where the deer are shot and just left to lay," DNR Conservation Warden Tim Ebert said.

Ebert thinks someone shined a light at the deer and shot them from the road.  Now, he's hoping someone heard or saw something to help solve the case.

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