Proposed committee could politicize education standards writing process, replace Common Core Submitted: 02/19/2014
Story By Adam Fox

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.

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 10/26/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We talked to a Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce board member about what the future holds as they search for a new executive director almost a month after Bill Clow was let go from the position.

We'll tell you when snowmobile trails are set to open in Vilas County and what's being done to prepare for the season.

And as the World Series is taking place between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians, we'll introduce you to the grandson of legendary baseball player and former Three Lakes resident Cy Williams. Hear what William's grandson has to say about his grandfather's role in World Series history.

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

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MERRILL - People know Helene's Hilltop Orchard in Merrill as the place to go to get your fall season fix.

The pie makers and apple peelers come in early to crank out caramel apple pies fresh throughout the day.

When people come to Helene's, they are usually greeted by the smell of the pies before they even see them.

"I love being out in the parking lot when people step out of their cars and smell the air. It doesn't smell like a lot of other farms. It's distinctly the cinnamon sugar you smell," said Helene' Hilltop Orchard baker Olivia Telschow.

Helene's is only open for six weeks from mid-September to late October; however, Telschow works alongside her mother Helene throughout the entire year.

Even in the winter, the apple orchard is checked on.

"February is pruning season. Think of me when it's minus ten and it's snowing and windy and snow drifts because I will be out there," said Telschow.

The orchard is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through October 30th.

Helene's will close Sunday for the season, but pies will be available to order for Thanksgiving.

Call (715) 536-1207 for more information.

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MADISON - The state Natural Resources' board will soon vote on selling another 3,500 acres of public land.

A measure included in the state budget ordered the DNR to sell 10,000 acres by the middle of next year.

Money raised will help pay down debt in the agency's land stewardship program.

The Natural Resources board approved putting about 1,400 acres up for sale in 2014.

Another 5,700 acres went up for sale this past February.

The board should vote Wednesday in Madison on whether to put a final 93 parcels totaling just over 3,500 acres up for sale.

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MADISON - Even with higher fees, plenty of people want to camp in state parks.

Wisconsin state park use this year is on track to be higher than average, despite fee increases that were imposed to offset the withdrawal of tax support.

The number of camping registrations and nights camped in 2016 through Friday was greater than in any year since 2008 except for last year's record.

This year, there have been nearly 160,000 camping registrations and more than 386,000 nights camped for state parks, recreation areas and southern forests.

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MADISON - A University of Wisconsin student charged with sexually assaulting and choking a woman is expected to face additional charges after investigators say they were contacted by dozens of other women.

Police say officers searching Alec Cook's Madison apartment found a black book with names of women he had met and what he wanted to do with them, including his sexual desires.

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MILWAUKEE - The trade deal known as the Trans Pacific Partnership has taken a pounding on the presidential campaign trail. But, at least one group is holding out hope for the pact - Wisconsin dairy producers

They see nothing but advantages from a deal that could increase exports at a time when their cows are producing more milk than ever in an over-saturated domestic market.

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RHINELANDER - Next Monday Northwoods youngsters will go house to house in search of Halloween candy and fun with friends.
But on Tuesday some Rhinelander high school students went going door-to-door a few days early.

Students from a business club took to the street to collect donations for their first ever 'Trick or Can' food drive.

Some students hope going into the community will help the event be successful.

"The idea is that it's no easier to give back in a food drive mentality than if we came to your house and asked to it. So in the theme of Halloween we took trick or can, and instead of asking for candy we are asking for cans in order to give back to our community," Rhinelander High School Senior Elliot Fehlen.

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