WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Cedarburg School Board will ask state to wait to test students on Common Core standards
A school board will ask Wisconsin lawmakers to wait for at least two years to start testing students based on the state's tougher Common Core standards. The Cedarburg School Board near Milwaukee voted 5-to-nothing last night to ask the state to hold up what's called the "Smarter Balanced" exam. It's supposed to replace the old statewide W-K-C-E achievement test next spring for reading and math. School board member Phillip McGoolan said the test is not proven yet as a "viable methodology." He said it was developed by academics who want the federal government more involved in public schooling. Parents at last night's meeting said more local control is needed, not less. Some rural schools wondered if they'd have enough bandwidth to administer the exams, which will be totally online for the first time. Last December, the Germantown School Board rejected the Common Core tests and vowed to create their own. Earlier this year, educators throughout Wisconsin defended the Common Core standards as a necessary vehicle to get students ready for a more complex world. They beat back efforts by state Republicans to drop or reduce the standards, which are just now building steam after Wisconsin adopted them four years ago.
A Milwaukee area think tank is sounding an alarm over the viability of the region's non-profit groups. The Public Policy Forum says there are now 23-hundred charitable groups in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Washington counties. That's 183-percent more than in 1989, while total donations have not risen as much -- 134-percent, to three-point-seven billion dollars. Meanwhile, the research group says the average Milwaukee area non-profit had a budget that's 17-percent less than in '89, of just over one-and-a-half million dollars a year. The Public Policy Forum questions whether the smaller groups will erode the region's non-profit infra-structure. The lead author of the report, Phillip Laper, said those who are not able to get services in the private sector are having a harder time finding options that get more limited. The report also cited a study indicating that 38-percent of Wisconsin non-profit groups were planning to reduce or eliminate services. Andi Elliott of the Milwaukee Community Advocates group says one way to solve the problem is for non-profit groups to work more closely with each other.
More companies are buying more tools for their professional mechanics -- and it's been a boom for Snap-On Tools of Kenosha. The company reports a net income of 106-million dollars from April through June, a 20-percent increase from the same time a year ago. Total sales jumped by more than eight-percent during the second quarter of the year, to 826-and-a-half million dollars. When acquisition-related sales and foreign currency exchanges are taken out, base sales jumped over six-and-a-half percent. Stockholders saw their earnings rise from 1.50-a-share last spring to 1.80 this year.
The U-S Labor Department will spend 470-thousand dollars to help employees laid off by the Oshkosh Corporation train for new jobs. The funding will help re-train about 230 workers in the Oshkosh Defense division. It cut its military vehicle production as the U-S military was cutting its troop force in Afghanistan. The re-training grant was given to the state. It will be administered by the Fox Valley Workforce Development Board, to provide training for high-demand occupations -- plus career counseling and help in finding potential jobs. In April, Oshkosh said it was cutting about 700 hourly jobs, plus 60 salaried posts.
Sheboygan County will spend over four-million dollars to preserve one of the last undeveloped stretches of beaches-and-dunes on the western shore of Lake Michigan. The County Board has unanimously agreed to buy and protect 333 acres near Cedar Grove in the town of Holland. It's called the Amsterdam Dunes -- a patchwork of dunes, forests, bluffs, and ridges that borders Lake Michigan for over 19-hundred feet. The American Heritage Company is selling the site, and the deal is expected to be finalized by August first. Sheboygan county will set up walking trails to provide public access. It will also seek outside help in paying for the land -- including a possible state Stewardship grant which could cover up to half the property's appraised value. Officials said they could seek funds from the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service, and perhaps sell a couple of narrow parcels to nearby homeowners.