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.
LAKE TOMAHAWK - All around you witness goodwill gestures. It could be as simple as a smile and wave or opening a door for someone. In Lake Tomahawk, it's making a pie.
"I made a pretzel crust with butter and sugar, " explains Sheila Punches. Sharon Hilgendorf adds, "Flour, for the thickening."
Snowshoe baseball's been entertaining crowds since the 1960's. But over at the concession stand, the pie takes center stage.
Strawberry rhubarb, banana butterscotch pie, blueberry pie, rocky road and coconut cream are just a few of the creations. "I like making ones that I think will appeal to the crowd," says Linda Penno.
Each week a different service club's in charge of the snack shack and in turn, takes home the proceeds. Locals bakers, a lot of local bakers make their best pies and donate them to support the cause.
"You get involved with it over the years and it just becomes your way of life on Mondays," says Punches.
On an average night they sell 80 pies. Each one is cut into six pieces and are only two dollars a slice. That means making almost a thousand dollars is easy as pie.
Ken Lochte of Rhinelander exclaims, "This is the only place you get your dessert first, before you get your food." "It's a great honor and pleasure and I've been doing it for quite a few years now," adds Rebecca Morien.
No matter how you slice it, everyone benefits from this unique fundraiser.
"It is unique and different which makes Lake Tomahawk special," says Morien. "It's a very good fundraiser for the community who in turn give it all back. So, it's kind of a domino effect you know," adds Hilgendorf.
If you think this is a lot of pies, the team is requesting the bakers provide double this Friday. They're hoping to have more than 200 pies for the Snowhawks game against the Wounded Warriors.
CONOVER - The Chain Skimmers Water Ski Team from Conover won the state title for their division last weekend in Wisconsin Rapids. Summer water ski shows are a wonderful part of the Spirit of the North.
"I don't know how to spend the summer anywhere else," said Jessica Clark.
She is one of about 35 skiers between the ages of 12 and 31 who spend their summers on Lake Pleasant in Conover. They come from Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida and Texas.
47-year-old Karen Wessell of Star Lake died in yesterday's swimming accident in Vilas County. A boater pulled 2 people out of the water after they started drowning on Star Lake. We now know Wessell died shortly after.
Wessell went under water during a rescue attempt.
The Vilas County Sheriff says 3 women and 4 kids were along Trampers Trail. 3 boys swam across the channel and were told to come back. They got tired swimming back to shore so the women had to help. Wessell used herself to push one of the boys above the water to keep him from going under. A boater saw them, pulled them out, and started doing CPR.
MILWAUKEE - Authorities are looking for a fourth suspect in a shooting on an interstate in Milwaukee County.
Sheriff David Clarke says people in a minivan and another vehicle were shooting at each other in a ``running gun battle'' on Interstate 43 Tuesday afternoon. One vehicle struck the other and the minivan spun into the ditch near Fox Point. Three people in the van were arrested. Authorities say a fourth person left the scene.
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