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NEWS STORIES

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 OnSubmitted: 09/30/2014

- The Wisconsin Wetlands Association recently released a new book helping people understand how to care for and protect Wisconsin's wetlands. We visit a Northwoods wetland to find out how people can protect wetlands in our area.

- Plus, Richard Branson recently announced some of his employees at Virgin Airlines will get unlimited holiday vacation time. He's hoping that would increase productivity and keep employees at the company longer, but leaders at Nicolet Staffing in Rhinelander says that won't work here. Find out the details on why unlimited holiday vacation would only work for global companies.

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

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Iconic northern tree species could disappear as Northwoods climate warmsSubmitted: 09/30/2014

FIFIELD - "Here's the paper birch, or white birch. It's one of my favorite trees," Linda Parker tells me as we walk through a part of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest near Fifield.

But her next thought on the tree is not so pleasant.

"This again is one of the species that occurs at the southern edge of its range here. It's more common to the north," she says. "This is another species in which we expect to see large declines."

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UW-Marathon County issues voter IDs to students who need oneSubmitted: 09/30/2014

WAUSAU - A local college wants to make sure its students can vote this November.

UW-Marathon County is issuing voter IDs to students that don't have them.

Everyone in Wisconsin needs to have an ID to vote this fall.

The university started making the IDs Monday.

All UW schools will be issuing IDs to students who need one.

"The biggest reason that we're doing this is we really want our students to have that opportunity to vote," says Interim Assistant Campus Dean for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at UW-Marathon County Carla Rabe. "Some of our students may not have the proper voter ID, and so for us to offer that opportunity to our students really just encourages them to really take the importance in voting."

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Update-Inmate captured after failing to return to jailSubmitted: 09/30/2014

MARATHON COUNTY - An inmate who didn't return to jail from Huber release will now get a chance to think about his mistake.

The Marathon County Sheriff's department confirms inmate Tommie Rothenberger has been captured.

He was found in Waupaca County around 5:30 last night.

Rothenberger was let out of the Marathon County Jail Friday morning to go to school at Northcentral Technical College.

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Domestic violence deaths total close to one person a week in WisconsinSubmitted: 09/30/2014

MADISON - 55 people in Wisconsin died last year from domestic violence.

The organization End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin looked at the numbers. They found the following statistics:


- About one person every week died from domestic violence in 2013. 39 of the deaths were homicide victims.

-12 abusers took their own lives.

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Rothschild Fire Department holds a coat drive Submitted: 09/30/2014

MARATHON COUNTY - A local Fire Department will try to get winter coats to everyone who needs one this winter.

The Rothschild Fire Department is holding a coat drive.

You can drop off coats at the Rothschild and Wausau fire departments.

This is the second year they've held the drive.

"[The] coat drive is meant to help out the needy within the Wausau area," says Paul Tackes of the Rothschild Fire Department. "Not everybody can afford the costs of the coats nowadays so we figured we'd try and help out."

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Put on your dancing shoes! Rhinelander is offering a ballroom dancing classSubmitted: 09/30/2014

RHINELANDER - Do you have a wedding or social event coming up... but feel like you have two left feet?
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The Rhinelander Community Education program will be holding a ballroom class next Tuesday, October 7th. You can come alone or as a couple, but you must register beforehand. The instructor will go over the basics of swing, waltz and polka.

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