MADISON - Some Wisconsin legislators believe education standards should get a fresh look and make changes every six years.
Authors of a state education proposal want to form a committee to do that.
The Republican backed bill would give the governor, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the heads of both parties in the legislature the power to pick the 15 member committee.
Republican Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt sits on the Assembly Committee on Education and sponsors the bill, AB 617.
He says the selected members would need to be teachers, parents, board members and other education experts. He says the governor would pick six members, DPI would select 5 members, then the majority and minority leaders of the Assembly and Senate would each select a member to round out the 15 person committee.
Thiesfeldt says the committee isn't being proposed as a Republican power grab in education.
"This isn't built just to fit just this time in space," Thiesfeldt said. "This is built looking out to the future too, you know because we're not going to have Republicans in control forever."
But the bill will give the sitting governor's party the power to appoint the majority of the members on the committee. The six selections from the governor's office, plus the two selections from the legislature would make a majority on the 15 member committee.
That's something that worries Democratic Rep. Mandy Wright. She also sits on the Assembly Committee on Education, and worries the proposal is politicizing the standards writing process.
"It's a big reason I ran for office is to make sure that we don't really politicize education, and that we leave it in the hands of the experts," Wright said. "And I am concerned this goes too far in making our standards politicized."
The committee's standards would also replace the state's current Common Core standards. Wisconsin adopted those standards in 2010 for both math and English. More than 45 states have adopted some part of the standards across the country.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Instruction, Common Core provides guidance and support, while still maintaining the local control so important to districts throughout the state. It also helped standardize curriculum.
Wright was a teacher before being elected to the Assembly in 2012. She has experience teaching the Common Core standards.
"I don't think it's perfect," Wright said. "I do think there is room for improvement overall and I see that there was a need for standardization of our curriculum and I think Common Core takes us in the right direction."
State Superintendent Tony Evers agrees. He called the proposed bill "wholly unacceptable" this week.
He said Wednesday in a YouTube post that the standards change would be a step backwards for Wisconsin.
"We're going to be a national embarrassment, for what we are doing in public education, we can't afford that, our economy can't afford that," Evers said.
But Thiesfeldt believes a move away from Common Core and the formation of the committee would be the right move for Wisconsin.
"It's a much more open process than we've had in the past and certainly much more open process that we used to implement common core standards," Thiesfeldt said.
The Assembly Committee on Education will vote on the proposal Thursday.
STEVENS POINT - Stevens Point police want your help finding suspects in two possible stabbings. The stabbings happened early Friday morning and early Sunday morning near downtown Stevens Point.
Friday, four young men got into a fight on Main Street. One man said he was stabbed in the chest. Police say the suspect is a black man in his mid-20s, about 5' 9" tall, with a muscular build and short hair. The victim was treated at the hospital and released.
Sunday morning, police responded to an incident at 2nd Street and Crosby Avenue. Witnesses heard glass breaking and people yelling about a stabbing. Police don't have a victim or suspect description in that case, but they don't believe the two stabbings are connected.
If you have any information about the stabbings, call Detective Sgt. Gruber at 715-346-1518.
You can also call Portage County Crimestoppers to remain anonymous at 888-346-6600.
The Boulder Junction Town Board voted two to one Tuesday night to move forward with a town plaza plan. The plan will now go to a design phase.
The board estimated the cost of the design phase to be between $30,000 to $50,000, but it was dropped to about $25,000 at the meeting.
Town Chairman Dennis Reuss and Town Supervisor Dennis Duke voted in favor, with Town Supervisor Denny McGann voting against the plan.
A little more than $1 million may not seem like a lot of money to a city like Madison or Milwaukee. But for a town of fewer than one thousand people, it's a lot. The Boulder Junction Town Board could vote Tuesday whether or not to move onto the next phase of a $1.26 million town plaza project.
Dennis Duke has a vision of what Boulder Junction could look like in a few years.
"This one has a much more artistic flair, this has a more engineering flair if you will," said Duke while looking at potential design plans.
RHINELANDER - People in Rhinelander will be able to cast their November election ballots starting on Friday. It's the earliest people in Wisconsin have ever been able to vote.
The absentee ballots are stacked and ready for Friday at the Rhinelander City Clerk's office. To make the early voting process go as smoothly as possible, you will need to come prepared.
"When you come in make sure that you're registered. That is important. Make sure you're registered in the city if you're coming into us," said Clerk Valerie Foley.
Registering is easy; all you need is a photo ID and proof of residence. The registration form takes a couple of minutes, and then you will be able to fill out an election ballot.
"I think it is going to be a very busy day. I think people are pretty interested in the issues. And I think a lot of them would like to get and make sure they can vote if they're not certain they're going to make it to the polls in November or not," said Foley.
The clerk's office has already sent out about 200 ballots to people who have requested them.
Now, it is preparing for the early voter in-person rush.
If you are unsure whether you are registered to vote or where to go for early voting, the clerk's office suggests voters visit myvote.wi.gov for more information.
TOWN OF LITTLE RICE - Dennis Schoeneck's pickup truck sloshes through muddy logging roads these days. But he'd prefer it if a much larger truck could even make it down the path.
"Heck, I think you could spit and make mud here," the Enterprise Forest Products owner said Tuesday morning.
Foot-deep ruts make up most of the logging road leading back to 23 acres of private land the long-time logger harvests in the western Oneida County town of Little Rice. Schoeneck started logging professionally in 1979 and says 2016 has been "exceptionally wet" compared to any other year.
"The old adage, make hay while the sun shines, that's not just for farmers," Schoeneck said. "That's for us too."
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