Issues and Legislation
Wisconsin Kindergarten Legislation
(Posted April 2, 2009) Testimony Presented by Larry Kaseman, Executive Director, Wisconsin Parents Association — Public Hearing on Substitute Amendment 1 to SB 89, Before the Wisconsin Senate Education. Committe, Thursday, April 2, 2009, 1:30 PM
Election of State Superintendent
(Posted March 9, 2009) Action, Please! Download PDF file (2 pages)
Working with the Legislature
Summary: If we have a reasonable working relationship with our legislators, or at least know who they are and how to get in touch with them, we will be in a stronger position when we want to support or oppose a piece of legislation that is important to us or if we need to resolve a problem with a government agency or official. Here is basic information on how a bill becomes a law, how to contact legislators and develop a working relationship with legislators, and how to testify at a legislative hearing.
Virtual Charter Schools
- Information WPA Provided the Wisconsin State Legislative Audit Bureau
- Email Correspondence with Public School Charter School Superintendents
- Email sent to legislators January 23, 2008
- Assembly Bill AB 697 (link)
- WPA Testimony on AB 697 (PDF)
- Senate Bill SB 396 (link)
- WPA Testimony on SB 396 (PDF)
- Email sent to WPA Members January 19, 2008
- Email sent to WPA Members January 18, 2008
Special Bulletin 12/17/2007: Prepare Now to Respond to Legislation on Virtual Charter Schools
Summary: A Wisconsin court recently ruled that the virtual charter school operated by Northern Ozaukee School District is illegal. Legislation will probably be introduced in January to address this issue. Virtual charter schools are public schools. However, because their students study in their homes, they are often confused with homeschools. Therefore, the legislation may well undermine our homeschooling freedoms. Homeschoolers working together through WPA will need to respond.
General Background Information
- Fact Sheet: Homeschoolers and Virtual Charter Schools (3/9/04)
- Fact Sheet: How Virtual Charter Schools Threaten Public Schools (2/27/03)
- Bennett's Role in Promoting Public E-Schools Undermines Homeschooling (WPA Newsletter #73 8/02)
- WPA Testimony at the Public Hearing on Virtual Schools Before the Education Reform Committee of the Wisconsin Assembly (Monday, May 20, 2002, 10 AM)
- Special Bulletin on Virtual Charter Schools (Excerpts 3/9/02)
- Fact Sheet: How Virtual Charter Schools Threaten Public Schools (revised)
- Sample Letter to Newspaper Editor on Virtual Public Schools
- Special Bulletin on Cyber Charter Schools (Published earlier)
Supporting Documents That Contain Important Information
- WPA Testimony before the Appleton Area School District.
- WPA Testimony before the Lake Mills Area School District
- WPA Letter to Lake Mills School Board Members.
- Letter (11/21/01) and Supporting Documents from the Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning rejecting Sylvan Venture's attempt to establish a public e-school in Minnesota.
- Letter (2/8/02) and Supporting Documents from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction refusing to grant Wisconsin Connections Academy (a joint venture of Sylvan Learning and the Appleton Area School District) a planning grant.
- New Connections Academy. Questions and Answers re: Charter School Application. Presented to: Denver Public Schools District School Improvement and Accountability Council. David Benoit, Sylvan Ventures, (410) 843-6233. Gail Klapper, The Klapper Firm, (303) 592-1117. 10/25/01 (WPA received this document from the Denver Public Schools in accordance with open records law.)
This document is very useful for two reasons:
(1) The proposal for the New Connections Academy submitted to the Denver (Colorado) Public Schools can be assumed to be similar to the ideas behind the Wisconsin Connections Academy (WCA) that is seeking a charter from the Appleton Area School District, especially since David Benoit, Executive Vice President of Sylvan Ventures and one of the co-authors of this document, has also been involved with Wisconsin Connections Academy (WCA). In addition, the Sylvan proposals WPA has reviewed from the other states in which they have applied for charters have all been very similar.
Here are very revealing responses to good questions the Denver Public Schools asked Sylvan Ventures about their proposed New Connections Academy (NCA). Among the points worthy of note:
- The relationship between the Charter (NCA) and Sylvan Learning (pp. 9-10)
- The proposed budget on pp. 14-15 and especially the Budget Narrative on pp. 16-20.
(2) Notice how thorough the Denver Public Schools were in investigating Sylvan's proposal. By contrast, Appleton school personnel knowledgeable about charter school matters told WPA on March 8, 2002, that a complete proposal had not yet been submitted by WCA. Despite this, a major policy decision is expected to be made at a meeting of a committee of the Appleton school board on March 15, 2002. How can major decisions about new programs that will strongly impact public schools throughout the state be made without a judicious amount of time to review, analyze, and discuss a complete proposal?
In addition, remember that having reviewed this document, the Denver Public Schools denied a charter to NCA.
- All the pages from the original are included in this document with their original page numbers appearing in the text, but the pagination of the PDF is different from the pagination of the original document.
- The last digit of each number in the final column on page 15 was evidently truncated when the document was produced by Sylvan Ventures and the Klapper Firm. WPA has added a zero to each of the numbers in this column to remedy this.]
July 28, 2007: Act now to ensure public libraries receive the money they need to serve your community and your homeschooling needs
The State Budget Conference Committee is currently resolving differences between the State Senate's and the Assembly's versions of the Wisconsin budget to send to the Governor. Since the Assembly's version eliminates two provisions, it would result in reduced library services. The most straightforward way to communicate with legislators is to ask that they adopt the Senate's version of library funding.
Note: If you want to be more specific, request that the committee keep both (1) the maintenance of effort (MOE) requirement and (2) the exemption from county levy limits for payments counties make to public libraries. (1) The MOE requirement means that municipalities and counties must give libraries at least as much money as the average of what they have given them during the previous three years. (2) The exemption from county levy limits allows counties to reimburse libraries in adjacent counties for services these libraries have provided to the county's residents.
The most important legislators to call are those on the State Budget Conference Committee. They are:
Jeff Fitzgerald (R) Horicon 608-266-2401 920-485-0586
Michael Huebsch (R) West Salem 888-534-0094 608-266-3387 608-786-3512
Kitty Rhoades (R) Hudson 888-529-0030 608-266-1526 715-386-0660
James Kreuser (D) Kenosha 888-534-0064 608-266-5504 262-553-5555
Russell Decker (D) Weston 608-266-2502 715-359-8739
Robert Jauch (D) Poplar 800-469-6562 608-266-3510 715-364-2438
Judith Robson (D) Beloit 800-334-1468 608-266-2253 608-365-6587
Scott Fitzgerald (R) Juneau 608-266-5660 920-386-2218
In addition, if your state Senator and Assembly representative are not on the Committee, please also call them and ask them to share your request with members of the Committee. For contact information for your legislators, go to http://waml.legis.state.wi.us.
When you call a legislator's office, you will probably speak to an aide. Explain that libraries are very important to your family and request that the Senate provisions for library funding be included in the final version of the budget bill. This is not just a homeschooling issue, so you don't need to mention that you are a homeschooler. You can simply say that you use and value libraries. Also, contact friends, relatives, neighbors, and others you know and encourage them to call. On an issue like this, every call matters. Please do your part.
If you prefer, you can email legislators. However, phone calls are more effective than emails. If you do email the legislators from your district, be sure to include your postal address and mention that you are a constituent.
Thank you for your response to this challenge.
Update on Federal Legislation on Homeschoolers Entering the Military
From: WPA Newsletter #87 February 2006 page 5
Recently, Section 522 was added to a huge $400 billion federal military appropriations bill at the request of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a national homeschooling organization that represents only a minority of homeschoolers. Section 522 was supposedly designed to make it easier for homeschoolers to enter the military. However, many homeschoolers objected because it would authorize the Secretary of Defense to define what it takes to be a homeschool graduate, thereby undermining our homeschooling freedoms. Also, the legislation is unnecessary. At present, homeschoolers can and do enlist in the military by convincing a recruiter to accept their homeschooling transcript and diploma or by earning 15 college credits or in other ways. WPA asked members to contact federal legislators to try to have Section 522 removed from the bill. See Newsletter #86, December, 2005, page 3 for more details.
Unfortunately, the bill passed with Section 522 included, although it has been renamed Section 591. For the language of the final bill, go to http://thomas.loc.gov, enter H.R. 1815, and go to Section 591.
Thank you to all who contacted legislators. Take heart: your action will help ensure that the Homeschool Non-Discrimination Act (HoNDA) (H.R. 3753 and S. 1691), also proposed by HSLDA, does not pass. HoNDA contains a section on the military, similar to Section 591 but raising even more problems, including requiring that homeschoolers who want the military to recognize their diplomas have "a third-party verification letter of the graduateÕs home-school status by the Home School Legal Defense Association or a State or county home-school association or organization." Having homeschooling organizations certify homeschoolers would raise many problems.
WPA will continue to track both HoNDA and the regulations which will undoubtedly be written in response to Section 591 and will inform its members when it is time to act. At present, draft regulations have not been published and there is no significant movement of HoNDA through either the U.S. Senate or the House.. In the past several years, HSLDA has not been able to get HoNDA passed as a stand-alone homeschooling bill. Attaching one section to a huge military bill evidently made it difficult for homeschoolers to have their voices heard amidst the many louder voices fighting over military spending. If you know of homeschoolers who support HSLDA directly or indirectly, please ask them to consider what this is doing to their (and our) homeschooling freedoms.
Section of Military Appropriations Bill Would Undermine Homeschooling Freedoms
Your help is needed to prevent legislation that would authorize the federal government to define homeschooling and force homeschools to become like public schools. The more people who call or email legislators in the next few days, the better chance we have. Call or email as many of the legislators listed below as you can and ask that they work to remove Sec. 522 from H.R. 1815, a huge bill to fund the military.
Recent Communications Concerning a Tax Credit for Homeschoolers
Dear WPA Members —
Our work has paid off. Wisconsin homeschoolers working together through WPA have once again demonstrated our grassroots strength and commitment. The Governor has vetoed the education tax credit for homeschoolers (and other private school students) that would have opened the door for increased state regulation of homeschools... (Read the rest of this letter from WPA)
Contacting Legislators and Finding Statutes
- Wisconsin State Legislature
- Who Are My Legislators?
- Committees of the Wisconsin Assembly
- Committees of the Wisconsin Senate
- Wisconsin Laws
- Federal Bills
- U.S. Code
- U.S. Education Code (Chapter 20)
- Code of Federal Regulations
- Constitutions, Statutes, and Codes
- FERPA Sec. 1232g Family educational and privacy rights
Homeschoolers and the Public School Student ID System
Summary: The DPI continues to assure WPA that homeschoolers should not be assigned public school student ID numbers, even if they take one or two courses in a public school. However, because school officials are often misinformed or uninformed, we need to take responsibility for ensuring that our children are not wrongfully assigned a student ID number and included in the statewide ID system, which would undermine our privacy.
What To Do When School Officials Contact You
Summary: As homeschoolers we may be contacted by local school officials for a variety of reasons listed below. It is up to us to see that our responses are appropriate and do not cause problems for us or other homeschoolers. Here is information to help you deal effectively with school officials. Also included is a copy of a letter WPA is sending to all public school district administrators. Please keep these to refer to when a school official contacts you. (Note: Many homeschoolers keep their WPA newsletters in a file folder or three ring binder for easy reference.)