Saturday, September 25, 2021

Milwaukee Press Club 'Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism' 2020 Award Winner

Breaking News

Bill McCoshen Not Running for Wisconsin Governor

(The Center Square) – Scratch one candidate off the list of potential gubernatorial candidates in Wisconsin.

Bill McCoshen on Wednesday said he is not running.

McCoshen is a former Tommy Thompson staffer, and was one of the top names on the list of possible Republican candidates.

McCoshen said he and his family decided not to be a candidate.

“I know what it takes to win statewide,” McCoshen said in a statement. “To run the type of positive, issue-oriented grassroots campaign we wanted to run required time and money. You need both to raise name ID statewide. While I’m confident we could have raised the money, the reality was we lost too much precious time trying to close on the sale of our primary business.”

McCoshen this week finalized the sale of his lobbying firm, Capitol Consultants, to the lobbying arm of Milwaukee law firm Michael Best & Friedrich.

McCoshen will be joining the firm to continue working as a lobbyist.

McCoshen’s decision not to run certainly benefits Rebecca Kleefisch the most.

She officially jumped into the race last week, and on Monday said she’s already raised a million-dollars.

While McCoshen is not running, he said another Republican should.

“History says the GOP needs a competitive primary to beat an incumbent Democrat governor in 2022. It has only happened twice in my lifetime. The last time was 1986 when Tommy Thompson beat Tony Earl. Tommy won a five-way primary before going on to win 4 four-year terms and become the longest serving governor in Wisconsin history. The other time was 1978 when upstart Lee Dreyfus defeated party-endorsed Bob Kasten in the GOP primary before defeating interim Governor Marty Schreiber,” McCoshen said in his statement.

There are a number of possible Republican candidates for governor, but no one has officially launched their campaign.

Voters won’t go to the polls for the primary election until next August. The Republican candidate will take-on Gov. Tony Evers next November.

Wisconsin Lawmakers Want Reading Comprehension Screening to Begin at Pre-kindergarten

(The Center Square) – Kids in Wisconsin public schools could soon be screened for reading at much earlier ages, and much more often.

The Assembly’s Committee on Education on Tuesday listened to experts about a proposal that would require schools to screen children for reading readiness starting in pre-kindergarten.

“This bill requires school boards and independent charter schools to assess the early literacy skill of pupils in four-year-old-kindergarten to second grade using various screening assessments and to create a personal reading plan for each pupil

in five-year-old kindergarten to second grade who is identified as at-risk,” the legislation reads.

Basically, lawmakers say kids are falling behind earlier in school because they cannot read. The legislation is intended to boost reading scores before it’s too late.

“We have generations of kids who are missing opportunities because we can’t get them to read by the time they’re in the third grade,” Rep. Bob Whitke, R-Racine, told lawmakers Tuesday. “We are 42nd out of 42 states in the racial achievement gap. I don’t like being in last place.”

But there’s some pushback to the idea of screening kids early to help them read later on.

Ben Niehaus with Wisconsin’s Association of School Boards told lawmakers they are worried about the costs, both in terms of money and time.

“We wholeheartedly believe the [legislation is] well intentioned,” Niehaus said. “Yet we are concerned with where we’re at right now.... Some of the funding pieces of it. It’s looking to fall under the infamous ‘unfunded mandate.’”

The legislation offers schools money to cover the testing, but only if they report the number of students who are behind in reading both to the state and to parents.

Niehaus said he’s also worried about more testing. He said public schools now test kids for over 200 hours during their time between kindergarten and high school.

But others say the status quo isn’t working, and it’s time to try something to help kids across Wisconsin read better.

"For too long, Wisconsin’s K-12 system has churned out too many students who are not proficient in reading, causing a workforce crisis,” CJ Safer with the Institute for Reforming Government said. “This legislation transforms our childhood literacy policies by equipping parents and teachers with the information they need in order to ensure all students have the opportunity to succeed.”

Lawmakers are promising to move ahead with the legislation, but are not saying when they expect to vote.