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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 ľ 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 ľ 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 OnSubmitted: 05/02/2016

- Last month, voters in the Unified School District of Antigo rejected a referendum that would have consolidated the district's seven elementary schools. Now the district has to figure out what to do with the teachers, staff and students of one school that will close in June.

- Plus, until now Price County has never had any type of public transportation.  Park Falls hasn't even had a taxi service in years.  That all changed in April with a new bus.

We'll have the details on this story and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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PARK FALLS - Park Falls's Bob Kranig hadn't been to the grocery store in three years, by his estimation.

"I've got to rely on other people," he said.

Getting to the store himself was simply too tough. Kranig doesn't walk or drive. He mostly stays in his motorized wheelchair, which he calls his scooter.

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RHINELANDER - The Oneida County Humane Society hopes expanding its current facility will help the animals and the public.

OCHS announced plans to expand and improve the animal shelter at its annual Furball fundraiser.

It will use a $100,000 grant the shelter received from PETCO last year to help cover some of those costs. But OCHS will also need to raise more money to cover all the planned improvements.

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LAONA - Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson faces a tough path to reelection this fall.  The Republican has found himself down by double digits to challenger Russ Feingold in Marquette Law School polls at times.  But Johnson says he'll swing voters when they look at his record of getting work done in Washington, D.C.

Johnson announced his bid for re-election during stops across Wisconsin Monday.  The senator began the day at his Oshkosh-based plastics facility before meeting with state Sen. Tom Tiffany, logging industry and school leaders at a logging site in Laona.  Johnson said Monday was a great day to start his run.

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WAUSAU - The mayor of Wausau blames "a violent world," in part, for this weekend's officer-involved shooting.

A Wausau police officer shot and killed a man allegedly armed with a knife late Saturday night.

Mayor Robert Mielke said that he believes the shooting was justified and the entire police force has his full support.

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LINCOLN COUNTY - The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office warns people to clean up their campsites before they leave or face fines. That warning comes after this past weekend, when people left a messy site at the Underdown camping area in Gleason.

The Forestry Department saw people left litter, including a mattress, at the site. The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office says it has a zero-tolerance policy for littering.

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RHINELANDER -

Northwoods timber harvesters can now use a new business tool. 


StumpGeek software allows loggers to track things like their finances, timber, and cash flow.


The goal of the program is to offer an easy-to-use application.


Designers believe the software is tailored to the needs of Northwoods loggers.  


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