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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 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: 05/30/2016

- We will take you across the Northwoods to show you Memorial Day celebrations that took place today.

- Plus, while the rain this weekend stopped some Memorial Day activities, businesses in the Northwoods saw sales boom.

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

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MINOCQUA - While the rain this weekend stopped some Memorial Day activities, businesses in the Northwoods saw sales boom. Rain made tourists head indoors to see what different businesses had to offer.

Many Minocqua area businesses said the weekend was very busy because of the rainy and cloudy weather. Business was slower Monday compared to the weekend.

At Dan's Minocqua Fudge this weekend, staff saw thousands come in to shop.

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ARBOR VITAE - Many people enjoy being on the lake and away from work on Memorial Day.

But some volunteers were working hard Monday on local lakes to prevent the spread of AIS.

Volunteers from Clean Boats, Clean Waters work at different lakes to check boats as they come in and out of the water. They often catch common mistakes, and teach boaters how they can help stop the spread of AIS.

"They usually recommend draining the water up away from the landing that way anything mixed in with the water in the boat doesn't get back in the lake," said volunteer Aaron Tomasoski. "Pretty often people will drain it out. It's been that way for a while, but people are starting to get a hang of it. But we are making progress on that."

Clean Boats, Clean Waters is a state-wide volunteer program that grew out of a program called Milfoil Masters, created by Minocqua middle schoolers in 2003.

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ST. GERMAIN - Thousands of visitors come to the Northwoods each year in search of treasures old and new.

That's because one of the largest flea markets happens right in St. Germain.

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RHINELANDER - The gloomy weather made it difficult to stay outside for the entire weekend, but the rain brought a lot of people to the Pioneer Park Historical Complex.

The complex opened for the season on Saturday.

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ANTIGO - A group of tractor enthusiasts showed off their work Monday morning at Antigo's Memorial Day parade.

The Northwoods Tractor Club prides itself on refurbishing old tractors to like new condition.

The not for profit group started with just 20 members and has steadily grown to more than 100.

"Northwoods Tractor Club started in 2011 and it's a group of tractor enthusiasts that kinda thought well maybe we should get together and have an organization, maybe help out the community a little bit. So, we got together with 20 guys back then and now we're well over 100 members," says club President Mike McDougal.

Many of the tractors are hand me downs or ones that are too old to be used in the field.

That's why finding replacement parts can be tricky.

"A lot of times it's the family tractor that had been on their parents or grandparents farm. We reworked it and use it for parades such as today. Our whole general purpose of the organization is to raise money and establish an agriculture tractor museum up just north of Antigo is where we're looking at some land right now," says McDougal.

Many of the tractors date back to the 1930s.

Meeting are held on the last Monday of every month at Quinn's Bar in Neva Corners.

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WHITE LAKE - People held grand ceremonies all over of the United States today in honor of Memorial Day.

But perhaps some of the most dignified ceremonies happen in small towns right here in the Northwoods.

With a population of less than 400, White Lake is one of those towns that doesn't let the number of people in the town determine its significance. 

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