WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Gov. Walker would like to see Common Core repealed
Governor Scott Walker says he wants lawmakers to repeal the Common Core education standards adopted by all but a handful of U-S states. The Republican governor issued a one-sentence statement yesterday, calling on the next Legislature in January to replace Common Core with standards "set by people in Wisconsin." Walker was among several G-O-P leaders condemning Common Core last weekend at a meeting of the National Governors Association. He told that group he doesn't want people outside Wisconsin "telling us what our standards should be." The Badger State endorsed Common Core several years ago, but the debate over it didn't heat up until last year -- when tea party conservatives feared it would lead to a national education system. Other critics say Common Core departs from traditional methods of teaching math, it relies too heavily on student test scores, and smaller schools may not have the technology to administer the new online tests that are due to begin next spring in Wisconsin. Supporters say the tougher standards are needed to get students ready for a more complex world. Joe Zepecki, a spokesman for Walker's main challenger Mary Burke, called the governor's statement a "desperate election-year move" to boost what he called Walker's "extreme right-wing base." Burke, a Madison School Board member, supports Common Core.
A dry and comfortable weekend is in store for most of Wisconsin. After some record cool readings this week, temperatures will get close to normal this afternoon. Highs near 80 are expected both today and tomorrow, with warmer lows tonight of around 60. After some downpours on Monday, it's been dry in most of the state this week. The next mention of rain in the statewide forecast is for tomorrow, when a slight chance of thunderstorms is predicted for northwest Wisconsin. Storms will remain possible from Sunday through at least Tuesday. The mercury could reach the upper-80's on Tuesday. Rhinelander tied a record-low with 42 yesterday, matching a record set 103 years ago.
An island on the Lac du Flambeau Indian reservation is back in tribal hands, over 100 years after they lost it. A ceremony was held yesterday to celebrate the return of Strawberry Island to the tribe. The Mills family of Aspen Colorado had owned the 26-acre site on Flambeau Lake since 1910. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places as as a likely Indian burial ground. The tribe started negotiating in the mid-1990's to get the island back. That was after Vilas County rejected a building permit for a new home and garage, because it might disturb Indian burial grounds from a territorial dispute decades ago between the Chippewa and Sioux nations. In 1999, tribal voters rejected a referendum to buy the island for one-and-a-half million dollars. Walter Mills later filed suit, to force the tribe to buy the site -- but a state appeals court ruled in 2003 it had no authority to overturn the "decision of a sovereign nation." Negotiations then resumed, but the tribe could not afford the asking price until it got down to a quarter-million dollars. Besides the historical significance, Lac du Flambeau chairman Tom Maulson says Strawberry Island also has spiritual importance. He said the Ojibwe people owned it for hundreds or years until they lost it.
After last winter's propane fuel shortage, Wisconsin officials are urging folks who use that fuel to plan ahead. The state Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection has put out a tip sheet for buying propane. Officials say it's good idea to start securing fuel now, because prices are lower. Their tip-sheet includes advice on securing contracts, scheduling deliveries, and more. It also has a list of questions that consumers should ask suppliers. You'll find the tip sheet at the Ag Department Web site, accessible at Wisconsin-Dot-Gov. Last January, propane prices more than doubled due to frigid cold, a pipeline shutdown, and heavy propane usage by farmers who dried their grain. There were reports that a few suppliers failed to honor residential contracts.
Wisconsin is one of eight states where hunters can buy federal duck stamps online -- and four others are about to join them. Wisconsin and neighboring Minnesota were chosen earlier to sell federal "E-stamps." Starting August first, duck hunters can also buy them online in neighboring Michigan -- as well as in Missouri, North Carolina, and Virginia. The U-S Fish-and-Wildlife Service has links on its Web site to all the states that offer E-stamps -- and hunters throughout the country can use them. Buyers are told to print temporary stamps from their computers, and they're replaced with permanent stamps which are mailed out within 45 days.
Six Wisconsin Indian tribes will meet with the federal E-P-A next month, to explain why they want an environmental review of the Gogebic Taconite iron ore mine. The meeting is set for August 16th in Traverse City Michigan. In May, the tribes asked the E-P-A to invoke part of the federal Clean Water Act to try and stop the proposed iron ore mine near Mellen in Ashland and Iron counties. Bad River tribal chairman Mike Wiggins tells Wisconsin Public Radio that the state mining laws don't protect the environment -- and the E-P-A's intervention would let regulators gather information at the site. It could veto decisions from other government agencies on things like dredging, and digging close to waterways. The tribes say the proposed mine would harm water supplies on and off the nearby Bad River reservation. Supporters say the region desperately needs the jobs the mine would provide, and Governor Scott Walker says he's committed to an environmentally-safe process. The Republican Walker said two weeks ago that the E-P-A would endorse the mine if its bases its decisions on science instead of what he called "plain politics." Gogebic Taconite says it will keep moving forward with its plans.