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Past Issues | November 24, 2014 |
      DPI-ConnectEd Home      News from the DPI State Superintendent’s Page DPI Home     

1. Budget Video

“Folks, I’m encouraging you to engage on this issue on a personal level, and the time to do that is right now,” urges State Superintendent Tony Evers in a new, 4-minute video overview of his budget proposal.

“Not next spring — by that time it will be too late.”

One way to start engaging is by viewing and sharing the video, which is rich with images and in which Evers boils down the numbers to plain language so that parents and other community members can understand as well as educators. The next steps might be registering opinions with legislators, the governor’s office, and the Wisconsin Department of Administration.

State Superintendent Tony Evers from his office

Evers begins his overview by briefly explaining the need to reform the school funding system, then moves on to his proposal to increase funding for educating students with disabilities — which he says is “just the right thing to do” after years of flat-lined funding.

He mentions provisions to help rural schools with their unique challenges and explains that the budget also includes an increase for English language learners — especially important given their increasing number.

Evers then covers his budget’s provisions to bolster transitions to postsecondary institutions for all students, lower class sizes in some schools, and award funding for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), gifted and talented, tribal language revitalization, and public library programs.

He notes that people “all over the state of Wisconsin” provided input to the proposed budget, which is “reasonable” because it is small compared to some other state agencies and because “we believe that the resources necessary to make sure every student is career and college ready do not exist in the present system.”

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2. Wauwatosa, Fall Creek Superintendents Brought to White House Tech Summit

Two Wisconsin superintendents — Phillip Ertl from Wauwatosa and Joe Sanfelippo from Fall Creek — were among 117 nationwide to be selected for a first-ever educational technology summit at the White House last week.

In addition, Jason Tadlock, superintendent of Elkhorn Area School District, was part of a working group that helped pave the way for the event.

two children, one with his mouth wide open, next to a half-demolished structure composed of plastic cups

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the ConnectED to the Future summit with superintendents including two from Wisconsin. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

The “White House ConnectED to the Future Convening” on November 19 was part of Future Ready, itself a part of the White House ConnectED Initiative to advance digital learning aims.

The event not only recognized superintendents who have been exemplary leaders in digital learning but also provided opportunities for them to share lessons learned with each other and with the U.S. Department of Education. President Barack Obama spoke at the event, where he launched the Future Ready Digital Pledge, a way for school leaders to commit to:

  • Foster a culture of learning through technology across their schools
  • Assist their students and families in the transition to high-speed connectivity
  • Provide their learners greater access to high-quality digital devices and content
  • Provide teachers and principals the support needed to use technology in innovative ways

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3. Comprehensive Grant for Family Involvement

Subscriber Submission!

Even schools that didn’t receive Toyota Family Learning grants may perk up their ears at news that 1 of the 5 winners for 2014, a school from Wisconsin, will likely be sharing eventual expertise with teachers from other schools.

Thanks to winning this three-year, $175,000 grant, the Milwaukee Environmental Sciences Charter School (MESCS) is now embarking on some unusually comprehensive strategies to build up parents’ ability to help children learn.

A charter run by the Milwaukee Teacher Education Center (MTEC), MESCS was the only K-12 school to receive funding nationwide (Other recipients included two non-profits, a public library, and a state university.).

MTEC is a longstanding institution and one of 10 DPI-accredited alternative routes for teacher licensure. The grant is awarded as part of the National Center for Families Learning’s 24-year partnership with Toyota.

The upcoming family learning work has four levels, says MTEC’s executive director, Alisia Moutry.

Educating parents on interacting with their children to support their education is one aspect.

“How do you ask the right type of question to find out about their school day?” Moutry offers as an example. Or, “if you don’t understand ... a particular content area,” the school can offer strategies to smooth the gap.

State Superintendent Tony Evers from his office

Another component is providing parents with whatever continuing education suits their personal needs.

Working to take care of these needs can make school-family partnerships both stronger and easier to accomplish.

To that end, the school surveyed parents on what those needs were, and discovered common themes — around employment, professional education, finances, and technology.

Service-learning activities are also required by the grant — no problem for MESCS since service-learning is part of the normal curriculum.

The project’s final level is that it must spark family-to-family mentoring to broaden its reach.

So how does all this apply to schools that aren’t getting the Toyota grant funding? As it happens, MESCS is no stranger to the concept of sharing knowledge with other schools. Although the school is only one year old, part of the plan from the beginning has been to act eventually as a teacher training grounds (extending the mission of its parent organization).

So when it comes to new ways to engage families, Moutry says they’re very interested in serving as a model. “If we can show we have some success with our parents, maybe that’s something where MTEC could go into other schools and do training with teachers as well.”

Although at the beginning the school’s expertise will presumably revolve around its current grade levels — four-year-old-kindergarten through sixth grade — MESCS does plan to add a grade every year, so schools at any level may find its eventual wisdom applicable.

** This story was submitted by a DPI-ConnectEd subscriber! We are looking for your news of exciting programs, promising practices, initiatives that could benefit from publicity, or your questions about working with Wisconsin students. E-mail just a sentence or two to, with “Story Idea” in the subject line.

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4. Transform Community around Education through New Federal Program

A new program will match AmeriCorps members to school districts and other government agencies for transformational programs that either “ensure that every high school senior has a career or educational opportunity upon graduation” or address a community’s “most pressing local challenge.”

The idea is that an Operation AmeriCorps grant would act “as the catalyst to engage the whole community” in launching an initiative of up to two years in length “that will be a game-changer for the local community.”

Successful applicants are expected to leverage significant community support for these projects, which may be new initiatives, or may use AmeriCorps members to scale up existing successful efforts.

The focus on transformational impact is new for an AmeriCorps competition, according to the program fact-sheet.

Also new is that this opportunity allows a single application for multiple programs — AmeriCorps State and National, AmeriCorps VISTA, and AmeriCorps NCCC resources may all be requested.

A final difference is the two-step application process. Step 1 is submitting a concept paper of 10 pages or less. Applicants selected for Step 2 will submit a more detailed application, with technical assistance offered along the way.

Applications are due Tuesday, January 13, 2015, and applicants should provide notice of intent to apply by December 29, 2014.

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5. Teacher Mentor Awards

Among many teachers in Wisconsin who give their time to mentor the next generation of educators, at least four were recognized earlier this year by the state’s schools of education as particularly active and noteworthy:

Boone has worked extensively with UW-Stout’s emerging science education program has ensured students have a strong background in both content and pedagogy.

Fargen is described as a “master teacher” who has worked with UW-Madison’s physical education program for over 15 years.

Hannes was recognized as an “exemplary educator with a strong ability to encourage, coach, and inspire preservice teachers.”

Van Dyke was honored for an “uncanny ability to build quality relationships with her students, and for creating a safe and positive environment where everyone learns and grows.”

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State Superintendent Tony Evers


1. Budget Video

2. Wauwatosa, Fall Creek Superintendents Brought to White House Tech Summit

3. Comprehensive Grant for Family Involvement (Subscriber Submission!)

4. Transform Community around Education through New Federal Program

5. Teacher Mentor Awards

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For questions about this information, contact Benson Gardner (608) 266-3374