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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
Frederick Place needs your help during the winter monthsSubmitted: 11/25/2014

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RHINELANDER - It may be winter but Frederick Place in Rhinelander still has many empty beds.

The Northwoods Alliance for Temporary Housing provides emergency temporary housing for area counties.

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Phillips man gets two years in prison for failing to register as sex offenderSubmitted: 11/25/2014

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MADISON - A Phillips man will spend the next two years in federal prison, according to a U.S. Department of Justice release.

Mark Harder, 51, didn't register as a sex offender. It was required after he was originally convicted of indecent behavior with a juvenile back in 1998. That was in Louisiana.

Harder will serve five years on extended supervision after he's released from prison. He pled guilty to the crime back in September. He was sentenced Tuesday.

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Ice skaters dedicate their lives to become talented skatersSubmitted: 11/25/2014

MINOCQUA - It takes a lot of perseverance to become a talented ice skater.

Between long practices and competing, ice skaters might not have much free time.

Danielle Wolosek has been skating since she was four.

"To be good, you have to like pretty much dedicate your life," says Danielle.

That dedication sometime means a lot of time driving.

Danielle and her sister Tessa travel from Wisconsin Rapids to the Lakeland Hawks Ice Arena in Minocqua every week.

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Students donate 2,000 pounds of food, get to dye teachers' hairSubmitted: 11/25/2014

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RHINELANDER - Teachers at one Northwoods school wanted to encourage their students to give back to the community in time for Thanksgiving. They did that by offering up their hair.

Students at Zion Lutheran School in Rhinelander got to see two of their teachers dye their hair some of the colors of the rainbow on Monday. That's because students donated 2,000 pounds of food to a local food pantry.

Two students and a teacher also used the occasion to cut their hair for Locks of Love.

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Holiday Shopping- Why some stores open on ThanksgivingSubmitted: 11/25/2014

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WAUSAU - Thousands of holiday shoppers will head to stores and businesses this week.

This Friday is Black Friday and lots of people want to get to stores early for the best holiday deals.

But some businesses are opening a little earlier.

Almost 30 stores at Wausau Center Mall will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

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Newswatch 12 reports: Teen birth rate drops in the United States, still higher than other countries; Sexual education could decrease rate even moreSubmitted: 11/25/2014

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WISCONSIN - Teen birth rates dropped significantly across the country in the past few years.

Despite the decline, the United States still has the highest teen birth rate compared to other developed countries.

There are many reasons the rate is going down, and there could be many explanations to why the U.S. is behind other countries.

Education could decrease the rate even more.

That could prevent more people from having to go through the difficulties of being a teen parent.

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Man sues Wisconsin police over Facebook arrestSubmitted: 11/25/2014

MADISON - A man who was arrested after he posted Facebook comments calling a southern Wisconsin police department racist has filed a federal lawsuit alleging one of the agency's officers violated his constitutional rights.

Police arrested Thomas Smith in 2012 after he posted profanity-laced comments on Facebook calling police officers in Arena racists.

He was convicted of disorderly conduct and illegal use of computer communications. A state appeals court tossed out his convictions this past July, ruling Smith's remarks were protected speech under the U.S. Constitution.

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