Past Issues | July 14, 2014 |
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1. Freedom Summer – 50 Years Later
At this time fifty years ago, civil rights activists were in the midst of the Freedom Summer Project, an effort to integrate the segregated political system of Mississippi at that time.
This year's PBS film, Freedom Summer, is among the resources recommended for exploring the key civil rights events of 1964.
The effort is regarded today as an impactful part of the Civil Rights Movement mostly because of the strength of its argument and the “extraordinary violence” directed at the volunteers and local African-Americans.
As the DPI’s Freedom Summer teacher resource page explains, “four civil rights workers were killed, at least three Mississippi African-Americans were killed for their support of the work, 80 civil rights workers were beaten, 1,062 people were arrested, 37 churches and the homes and businesses of at least 30 African-Americans were bombed or burned.”
Although the Freedom Summer Project itself took place over four weeks in June and July of 1964, repercussions continued long afterward. A helpful timeline is available from the Wisconsin Historical Society. The society has also recently released Risking Everything: A Freedom Summer Reader, which highlights a collection of important Civil Rights documents brought to the society’s headquarters in Wisconsin while the struggle was still in progress, by a small number of University of Wisconsin-Madison students.
2. Wisconsin Global Scholars Graduate
Seven students became the first Wisconsin Global Scholars, having been the first students in the state to earn the Global Education Achievement Certificate. They graduated June 8 from:
To earn the certificate, students took four years of a world language and four credits of globally connected classes in literature, history, social studies, mathematics, or the arts; and completed an extracurricular and community service project connected to a global community or issue.
Last fall, Wisconsin became the first state in the nation with a defined path for students to gain the world language skills and opportunities to frame issues in a global context.
Currently, 22 high schools in 20 school districts are part of the Wisconsin Global Schools Network. These schools adopted a Global Education Achievement policy defining local requirements for their students to earn the Global Education Achievement Certificate.
Those policies tend to incorporate existing resources into a set of globally connected courses and requirements that support students’ development as global citizens.
A number of education and business groups endorsed the Wisconsin Global Education Achievement Certificate when it was introduced.
“It’s heartening that students embraced this opportunity to fulfill requirements to become Global Scholars in the first year of what was expected to be a four-year process,” Evers said.
Evers said the certificate responds to stated desires of both students and employers. Students have demanded “more opportunities to experience other cultures during high school” and employers want Wisconsin graduates who are prepared “to support worldwide competitiveness among Wisconsin businesses.”
3. High Cost Transportation Aid
The Department of Public Instruction is distributing $5 million in aid to 128 districts with above-average student transportation costs under the first year of the high cost transportation categorical aid.
Districts are eligible for this new aid if their transportation costs exceed 150 percent of the statewide average cost per member.
The new categorical aid was created by a collaborative effort between State Superintendent Tony Evers and Senator Luther Olsen, as well as the State Superintendent’s Rural Advisory Council, as a way to reduce disproportionately high transportation expenses. Evers recommended the aid as part of his 2013-15 budget request and it was approved by the full Legislature and governor as part of the 2013-15 biennial budget.
As transportation related expenses have risen in recent years, commensurate funding levels have not, putting pressure on districts with large transportation budgets.
“The state must continue to recognize the ever-changing needs of school districts,” Evers said.
“Addressing the burden that transportation costs were putting on district budgets helps schools focus their resources on student learning. This is a good first step and I look forward to working on additional school funding issues, including those outlined as part of my Agenda 2017 initiative.”
4. STEM Grants Awarded
Fifteen school districts will share $250,000 in state funding for innovative science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education projects in the coming year.
“STEM education is vital to our students and the future,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers.
“These courses will take an innovative approach to engage, motivate, and inspire students to spark their interest in careers in science technology, engineering, and mathematics. These fields hold so much potential as the source of innovation and entrepreneurship that drive economic development and the knowledge-based economy.”
The one-time grant program provides up to $19,222 to help school districts enhance STEM course offerings.
Funded activities include, at the elementary level:
At the middle school level:
And in high schools:
Approved projects will collaborate with an institution of higher education, business, industry, or a community-based organization that serves youth.
The program was part of the 2013-15 state budget and requires applicants to provide a matching amount equal to 25 percent of the grant.
5. Pharmaceutical Disposal Project Takes Third Place Nationally
Students from Hudson Middle School took third place in the national Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge this year for their project to “reduce the amount of pharmaceuticals finding their way into our water systems.”
Katie Cardell and Shayla Wallin, with advisor Christopher Deleon, who teaches engineering, technology, computer, and health courses at the school, formed a team called The Hudson Lake Doctors.
They worked with local police to encourage proper disposal of medication.
“We advertised the dropbox downtown, and we tried to get more people to bring their medications down there and dispose of them correctly,” Cardell told WCCO television news.
They ended up causing a 500-percent increase in medication being turned in, ensuring it was not flushed or poured down the drain.
“Increased rates of cancer, possible organ damage, obesity, early puberty, infertility, air pollution, water pollution, antibiotic resistance, dangerous dioxins and more are all effects of pharmaceuticals getting disposed in the wrong way,” the students wrote in their winning proposal.
Cardell and Wallin each won a tablet computer, a $5,000 savings bond, and a $1,000 grant for their school.
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