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.
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.
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.
Several Republican senators, including Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), have said they're not ready to vote.
Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) says he supports Johnson on this.
"We've given Senator Johnson some suggestions," Walker said. "I think he wants to vote for it, he made the promise when he ran in '10 and then last year in 2016 that he would vote to repeal it, he wants to do that, he just wants to make sure that the repeal ultimately ends up serving the people of Wisconsin well."
Both Democratic and Republican senators say they have issues with the bill.
Some Republicans say the bill doesn't get rid of enough of the Affordable Care Act.
Democrats worry about Medicaid cuts.
Walker says he wants Wisconsin to continue to do what it does well in healthcare.
"What I've asked Senator Johnson is help us do the things we've been successful at," Walker said. "We're a top ten state when it comes to access for healthcare for citizens, we're a top ten state with the quality of our healthcare systems. We want to maintain that going forward."
On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office said the new bill would cause 22 million Americans to be uninsured.
Johnson put out a statement Tuesday saying he was glad there won't be a vote this week.
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