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Past Issues | March 2, 2015 |

1. Art/Music Education Month

Student performances, exhibits, and special events at schools are highlighting arts education in March, celebrating Music in Our Schools Month and Youth Art Month.

Activity ideas for Music in Our Schools Month -- celebrating a 30th anniversary this year -- are available online through the National Association for Music Education.

Youth Art Month activity suggestions have been provided through the National Art Education Association.

At the State Capitol through early April, 12 different student groups from around Wisconsin will be performing at the Capitol Concerts organized by the Wisconsin Music Educators Association.

Also in the Capitol building until March 6 is the Wisconsin Art Educators Association’s Youth Art Month Exhibit (the 24 winners were announced last week at

The DPI’s Fine Arts and Education Consultant, Julie Palkowski, is asking Wisconsin schools to let her know about their own celebratory arts education activities.

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2. Budget: Citizen Input Essential

“What does an educator, parent, or grandparent do?” when confronted with the governor’s proposed budget cuts to education, asks State Superintendent Tony Evers in a recent editorial distributed to media, urging citizens to provide input into the 2015-17 biennial budget.

“Now is the time to talk among families and friends, within schools and communities. Study the impact of the governor’s proposed education budget.”

The DPI has released a summary table of the governor’s proposed 2015-17 budget measures regarding education, and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau has published a summary document on the Public Instruction numbers, including the general school funding cut and revenue limit freeze.

As Evers points out, “The heating and electric bills will not go down; the cost of running buses to transport kids is at the mercy of fuel prices. We absolutely must have teachers and textbooks. So school administrators and school boards will again be asked to do more with less.”

He goes on:

“Will they eliminate the few remaining field trips; scale back the science labs, music programs, or hands-on learning opportunities that help kids thrive; or will it be another whack at educator pay and benefits. The cuts are coming, and it’s important to know how your community’s public schools will cope.

“As we learn more of what this budget proposal means, it’s also important to tell your elected officials. Whether through a letter or e-mail, a phone call or testimony at upcoming budget hearings, legislators need to know what their electorate thinks.”

It matters that citizens share “evidence of how this budget proposal will negatively impact students in each legislator’s district,” Evers says.

“Legislators can reshape the 2015-17 budget. They can transform it from a ‘legacy of less’ to a spending plan that supports our kids and their future.”

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3. Agriculture Educators Get National Recognition

The St. Paul Pioneer Press recently featured one of Wisconsin’s winners in the National Association of Agriculture Educators 2014 Awards.

The write-up quotes Rachel Sauvola, agriculture teacher at New Richmond High School, in explaining that “many life skills are built into what we do here.”

She explained that in her students’ work with fish-fed aquaponics systems to grow leafy greens, or their raising of steer or tilapia, “every time we run into a problem, it’s all about communication.”

A United Nations flag and 'Bonjour' sign deck the halls of a KM Global classroom

In this St. Paul Pioneer Press photo, Sauvola looks at a project created by students Dane Swanda, left, and Cole Steffen, right.

Sauvola was the District III winner of the National Agriscience Teacher Award in November 2014. The organization honors winners in each of its six districts in lieu of choosing a single national winner. Wisconsin educators also took the district titles in

  • Outstanding Young Member (Jeanna James, Southern Door County School District, Brussels),
  • Outstanding Agricultural Education Teacher (Larry Plapp, Badger High School, Lake Geneva),
  • Teacher Mentor (Crystal Retzlaff, Oconto Falls High School),
  • Outstanding Cooperation (University of Wisconsin-Platteville Agricultural Education Department), and
  • Lifetime Achievement (LaVern Georgson, Fort Atkinson, who taught at Jefferson High School for 27 years).

There were only four categories of single-person awards by the group in which a Wisconsin educator did not take top place in the state’s district.

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4. At-Risk Education Awards

Three educators were honored by their peers at the Wisconsin Chapter of the National At-Risk Education Network Conference.   

Regional awards as Advocates for All Children went to: Doug Kugler, a Waukesha County Juvenile Detention Center instructor, who has reached a challenging student population through experiences in technology; and Cindy Gibson, recently retired from the Medford Alternative High School, who helped to champion a former at-risk student into becoming an educator.

The third honored person was Vicki Bayer, principal of Minoka-Hill School (Green Bay Area Public Schools), who received the Anthony Dallmann Jones Advocacy Award for her leadership in creating and coordinating programs that provide students with the support to overcome personal challenges, while maintaining the academic rigor necessary for success.

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5. Child Trafficking Prevention Guide

Because “few crimes are more challenging for communities to recognize and address,” the U.S. Department of Education released a new guide for educators on identifying and preventing child trafficking.

The U.N.’s International Labour Organization estimates that 5.5 million children were trafficked – exploited for forced labor, commercial sex, or both – worldwide in 2012, including in America. That the crime occurs in all regions of Wisconsin is backed up by statistics and a map from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, as well as by a survivor who was trafficked in the Fox Valley, Milwaukee, and the southern United States. “Amber” told her story in a recent NEWIST/CESA 7 video.

The new, online guide from the federal government, Human Trafficking in America's Schools, states that “for educators and school personnel, the reality of these crimes and the severity of their impact are cause for a call to action.”

The guide offers information about risk factors, recruitment, and how to identify trafficking; sample school protocols and policies for when exploitation is suspected or confirmed; involvement of communities in prevention; as well as other resources and partnership opportunities.

Statewide efforts to address these crimes are also evolving. This month, the DPI is participating in a roundtable discussion on “Sex Trafficked Children and Youth in Wisconsin” hosted by the Department of Children and Families, aimed at helping prevent Wisconsin youth from victimization.

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6. Contests: Mental Health, Reading/Video, Business/STEM, Photography

Some upcoming student competitions:

A poster contest sponsored by the Children’s Mental Health Matters Coalition encourages youth from Pre-K through high school to express themselves on the theme of My Feelings Matter. The goal is to support children’s healthy social emotional development and to generate age-appropriate conversations about the importance of mental health. Deadline is March 20.

Students aged 13-18 can create 30-90 second videos promoting summer reading at the public library, along with the 2015 teen theme of the Collaborative Summer Library Program, “Unmask.” Prizes include $150 and a $50 award for entrants’ local library. Deadline is March 23. For inspiration, students can watch last year's winning entry, a moody, Hunger Games‑esque offering from teens at the Hedberg Public Library in Janesville, can be viewed at More information and a Wisconsin entry form are available on the DPI's Public Library Development Youth and Special Services page (links to the national program were temporarily out of sevice as of this writing, but should be fixed soon).

The youth business plan contest, Wisconsin YES! (Youth Entrepreneurs in Science), aims to help young people learn how science and technology innovations can be developed into solid business plans. For middle and high school students who enter by April 6.

Digital photographs taken by students in grades 6-8 or 9-12 are eligible for the 2015 ide@s Student Digital Photography Contest. Deadline is May 15.

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State Superintendent Tony Evers


1. Art/Music Education Month

2. Budget: Citizen Input Essential

3. Agriculture Educators Get National Recognition

4. At-Risk Education Awards

5. Child Trafficking Prevention Guide

6. Contests: Mental Health, Reading, Video, Business, STEM, Photography

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