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Past Issues | April 21, 2014 |
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1. Library Thoughts from Evers

Libraries, like schools, are a “neighborhood treasure” where we “learn what we need to, to achieve what we want to,” wrote State Superintendent Tony Evers in a guest editorial for School Library Month (April) and National Library Week (April 13-19).

Evers painted the lifelong picture of libraries’ benefits, starting with children, “who typically run, not walk, through the door.”

In school, “our teacher librarians” not only provide access to books and technology but also expertise “in the best ways to use these resources.”

Finally, as adults, “many of us depend on libraries to help us better provide for our families or move closer to lives we want to live.”

“Library services are one of the best investments out there for developing skills ... kids will use for the rest of their lives,” Evers said in the piece, which was distributed to Wisconsin media.

Evers encouraged schools and the public to celebrate their libraries. One Wisconsin celebration of School Library Month which has been spotted online is a West De Pere “lip dub” music video.

More materials and ideas for celebrating libraries are available at the websites for School Library Month and National Library Week.

Another way is to announce state funding for school libraries (see article #2).

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2. Library Aid from Common School Fund

Public school districts throughout the state will share $30.2 million in library aid, to be paid April 28 from the Common School Fund, the only state funding specifically designated for the purchase of materials for school libraries.

Aid is based on the number of children between the ages of 4 and 20 living in each school district. This year’s payment will be $24.95 (rounded) per child. That reflects an increase of about 24 cents per child, due to increased funding and a lower number of children.

Districts must use this aid by June 30 for the purchase of books, digital resources, and technology that is housed in the school library program.

“The Common School Fund supports Wisconsin’s teacher librarians and the resources of our school libraries, which are integral in helping students develop the college and career ready skills they will need to succeed in the future,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers.

Established by the Wisconsin Constitution, the Common School Fund is managed by the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.

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3. Business Friends Awards

Recognizing the power of school-industry partnerships to help students graduate well prepared for college and career, State Superintendent Tony Evers named eight Business Friends of Education for 2014:

  • Country View Veterinary Clinic, Oregon;
  • Cummins Emissions Solutions, Mineral Point;
  • GenMet, Mequon;
  • Lakeshore Health Care Alliance, Sheboygan;
  • NEW Manufacturing Alliance, Green Bay;
  • Precision Plus, Elkhorn;
  • Project SEARCH, Madison; and
  • WESTconsin Credit Union, Hudson.

More information about each awardee’s work with students is available in a DPI news release.

The awards were presented April 11 during the annual Wisconsin Association for Career and Technical Education Professional Development Conference in Middleton. Following the awards breakfast, honorees participated in a panel discussion to share their experiences integrating academic knowledge, technical and career education, and workplace learning skills.

“The collaborative partnerships fostered between industry and education play a key role in preparing Wisconsin students for the future,” Evers said. “These supportive relationships make a difference in student’s lives and strengthen our communities for years to come.”

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4. FIRST Robotics Competitions Include Seven Wisconsin Teams

Wisconsin, and students from Wisconsin, are making a good showing in FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics, an engineering “cooperatition” that teaches general college and career readiness skills like collaboration, communication, problem solving, conflict resolution, fundraising, and business planning — as well as the obvious STEM skills involved.

Taking their robot creations to the national competition in St. Louis, April 24-26, will be seven Wisconsin teams:

A Wisconsin regional competition has happened in Milwaukee for FIRST’s entire nine years. This year, 60 teams competed, 31 of which were from within the state. Teams may select any regional competition; this year, 16 Wisconsin teams competed at one of 3 Minnesota regional competitions.

The students start in January, when they get the materials and rules for that year’s game. This year, they had to build robots that could win a robot equivalent of basketball — throwing balls through giant elevated goals.

robots, a red ball, and a red outlined goal in an arena

An image of the FIRST Robotics Wisconsin Regionals, from an online video posted by YouTube user, maddoctorable.

Students then work multiple days a week for six weeks, not only creating electrical and mechanical systems, but also writing a business plan and finding local business sponsors to help make it happen.

And then — they put it all away. They get some space from the idea before their competitions, where there is a time-limited opportunity to make final improvements before testing their robots in the arena.

During that time, the expectant audience is large, the students’ energy is high, and — thanks to the mission of the organization — so is their collaborative spirit. If a team is in need of a cable or other part for their work, an announcement may go on the loudspeaker asking students to be “gracious professionals” and loan one to another team.

Dr. Scott Jones, special assistant to State Superintendent Tony Evers, served as a volunteer judge for the Wisconsin regional event this year. He was impressed when two female students said they “used to hate science — now they’re planning to be engineering majors because of this.”

Registration for student teams is in the fall of each year. There are also elementary and middle level competitions.

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5. GED Completers

During 2013, 11,387 people in Wisconsin completed the required tests to earn a GED or HSED. This was an increase of 56 percent over the prior year’s total of 7,278 people.

December was the final month that the old series of tests — which originated in 2002 — would still count toward the GED. Throughout 2013, the DPI, the Wisconsin Technical College System, and the departments of Corrections, Health Services, and Workforce Development were on a push to help everyone who had started the tests to finish up.

In the past 11 years, 97,772 people completed their GED and HSED — which is part of why Wisconsin has one of the lowest rates in the nation of people without high school credentials.

The new GED test began January 1, 2014. More information about it will be included in a future issue of DPI-ConnectEd.

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6. Inclusion Institute and Pre-Conference

Registration is open for the annual Statewide Institute on Best Practices in Inclusive Education and Pre-Conference on Community Inclusion for Young Adults, a professional learning event co-sponsored by the DPI and the Inclusion Institute, Inc.

The events will be held at the Westwood Conference Center, Wausau, July 21-23, 2014.

Institute staff and DPI education consultants will be available to help Wisconsin educators plan and problem-solve.

The Institute offers a variety of topics. New for this year is a Monday afternoon pre-conference on Community Inclusion for Young Adults.

Keynote speakers include Jerry Mills, internationally acclaimed teacher, speaker, motivational trainer, singer/songwriter, and educational innovator who as a child experienced the "failure, fear, and frustration" of a nameless problem which led to adversities and challenges; and Laura Nadine, award-winning violinist, author, artist, teacher, single mother, and woman with Asperger syndrome, who presents a powerful message of acceptance and appreciation for people who may be different.

The cost is $160.00 per person for the full Institute before June 1, or $175.00 thereafter. Space is limited to the first 225 to register. Graduate credits are available.

Information is at www.BeloinandBrandl.com. Questions may be directed to beloin@att.net, 414.881.8101.

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State Superintendent Tony Evers


1. Library Thoughts from Evers

2. Library Aid from Common School Fund

3. Business Friends Awards

4. FIRST Robotics Competitions Include Seven Wisconsin Teams

5. GED Completers

6. Inclusion Institute and Pre-Conference

DPI-ConnectEd comes from the office of State Superintendent Tony Evers
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For questions about this information, contact Benson Gardner (608) 266-3374
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