September 6, 2012
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Supporting our neighbors and being involved in our community is of the utmost importance. Some community events that might be of interest to you and your family are listed below.
through Sun., September 9
Come check out the Milwaukee Art Museum's latest exhibition. The museum
will transport visitors to 19th century Paris, when larger-than-life,
brightly hued artistic posters with bold typography and playful imagery
once covered the boulevards. Experience more than one hundred of the
finest French posters.
CLICK HERE or call 414-224-3200 for more information.
Come and enjoy the day in one of Milwaukee’s most charming and unique
neighborhoods by visiting Milwaukee Public Market's Outdoor Market
happening every Thursday and Saturday through October. In addition to
the fresh seasonal produce, the outdoor market experience is
complemented by some of the best artists in the region. The market will
be held on St. Paul Avenue.
CLICK HERE for more information and to view a map.
Indian Summer Festival
Date: Fri., September 7 through Sun., September 9
The competition pow wow is the main event at Milwaukee's Indian Summer
Festival, and it features dancers in full regalia competing to drum
groups from across the country. The Grand Entry on each day includes
tribal veteran color guard groups presenting the flags of our country,
their tribes, and the military branches in which they served. Indian
Summer Festival will also feature cultural crafts like finger weaving,
moccasin making, quillwork, pottery, jewelry, beadwork, and wildlife
carvings. Additionally, the festival will offer delicious, traditional
foods including fry bread and Indian tacos. Indian Summer Festival will
be open on Friday from 4 p.m. to Midnight, Saturday from Noon to
Midnight, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults
and $10 for elders 60 and over. Kids 12 and under are admitted free of
charge. Advance tickets are also available online for $10.
CLICK HERE or call (414) 273-3378 for more information.
The festival will kick-off on Saturday with the grand launch of 600
kites. It will also feature performers Connor and Amy Doran who competed
on "America's Got Talent." The festival will be held on Saturday,
September 8 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, September 9 from 10 a.m.
to 5 p.m.
CLICK HERE for more information.
Date: Fri., September 14 through Fri., October 19 at 7 p.m.
Description: Learn more about Medusa and other monsters in Greek mythology by stopping the the UW-Milwaukee Planetarium. General admission is $2. CLICK HERE or call (414) 229-4961 for more information.
Manfred Olson Planetarium in the
Physics Building (MAP)
1900 E. Kenwood Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53211
Date: Sat., September 15 at 10:30 a.m.
Description: Join Children's Hospital of Wisconsin for the 35th Annual Briggs & Al's Run & Walk. This 8K run and 5-and 3-Mile walk has raised more than $13 million dollars with the help of outstanding community support. Public involvement makes it possible for Children's Hospital to provide medical care for more than 325,000 patient visits every year. The event begins at the intersection of 12th Street and Wisconsin Avenue on the Marquette University campus. The time for the runner mass start is 10:30 a.m. Elite runners will line-up at the front of the pack, while all other runners will line-up according to estimated pace. CLICK HERE for more information.
Bay View Bash
Join me at the ninth annual Bay View Bash, which takes place between
Potter and Clement on Kinnickinnic Avenue in Bay View. This free,
all-volunteer festival is a community gathering of food, art, music,
crafts, and books. All the proceeds go back to the neighborhood. In the
past, for example, the festival helped with the renovation, maintenance,
and preservation of the Historic Beulah Brinton House.
CLICK HERE for more information.
Enjoy one of Milwaukee's messiest events of the year. Attend the annual
Tomato Romp, which includes an old fashioned tomato fight and a Bloody
Mary competition. Tomato Fighters must be at least 16 years old to
Committee work is picking up in the Legislature as we tackle issues important to our neighbors in communities across Wisconsin. Continue reading to learn more about the latest public hearings and Legislative Audit Reports.
Remembering September 11th
This upcoming Tuesday, our nation will be recognizing the 11-year
anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. We should all take a moment
to remember the lives lost and also recall the days afterward and how
the United States stood united in our resolve to not be intimidated by
these acts of destruction and cowardice.
Our nation is still in the process of rebuilding the landmark World Trade Center building that lay in ruins 11 years ago. The project aims to combine modern, safe, and sustainable commercial space, convenient transportation, and a destination cultural center. The New World Trade Center is expected to be completed next year and will boast five new skyscrapers, span over 100 floors, and contain the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
Study Shows Voucher Schools Fail to Out-perform MPS
Late last week, the Legislative Audit Bureau released its analysis of a five-year study examining Milwaukee’s voucher program. The Legislative Audit Bureau’s report confirms the methodology used and student samples examined by researchers was flawed and therefore the findings of the study are frustratingly inconclusive.
Background on the Study
In 2005, the Wisconsin State Legislature passed Wisconsin Act 125, legislation requiring all private schools participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program to give standardized tests to all students in fourth, eighth, and 10th grades and submit the results to the School Choice Demonstration Project conducted out of the University of Arkansas. Such requirements are already in place for all of Milwaukee's Public Schools.
The School Choice Demonstration Project studied 5,454 students--half in voucher schools and half in MPS--beginning in the 2006-2007 school year. It released several reports per year on the differences between the two school systems. Wisconsin Act 125 also required the state Legislative Audit Bureau to analyze the project's annual reports in order to compare the academic performance of voucher students to their counterparts in Milwaukee Public Schools.
Click here to view a copy of the Legislative Audit Bureau's findings
regarding the School Choice Demonstration Project's study.
The number of voucher students and public school students that were tracked in the study totaled 2,727 each, and were selected by the School Choice Demonstration Project. However, as acknowledged by the Legislative Audit Bureau, there were major flaws with the student sample from the beginning. Below is a list of just some of the problems with the study that prevented researchers from getting a true apples-to-apples comparison of academic performance between voucher and public school students:
Annual Snapshot Likely More
It is foolish to continue funneling
over $55 million annually out of our children’s public schools without
any measure of the value of this educational diversion. As we progress
into the new school year, I hope this report will also motivate the
Legislature to re-examine the accountability requirements of the voucher
My Milwaukee colleagues and I were
successful in our efforts to ensure greater transparency and
accountability on Milwaukee’s property tax bills. We worked together
with the Milwaukee Treasurer, Comptroller, Mayor, and members of the
Common Council and Milwaukee Public School Board of Directors to develop
an information sheet to be distributed with property tax bills providing
separate cost information for Milwaukee Public Schools and the Milwaukee
Parental Choice Program, which was formerly listed as one lump sum.
Milwaukee taxpayers will now receive a detailed break down of how much
they pay for Milwaukee Public Schools and how much is funneled into the
Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.
I realize the complexity of this issue
and appreciate those neighbors who have been working to draw attention
to it. Please contact me with any clarifying questions you might have.
Audit, Education Committee Hold Public Hearings
Two of the committees of which I am a member--the Senate Committee on Education & Corrections and the Joint Legislative Audit Committee--met last week to discuss issues important to our community and the state of Wisconsin. Continue reading for more information about what was addressed at these public hearings.
Senate Committee on Education & Corrections
The Senate Committee on Education & Corrections held a public hearing on Wednesday, August 29 to ensure the Legislature was informed and up-to-speed on the challenges facing schools across the state as we begin the new school year. Below are just some of the items that were discussed at this public hearing:
Joint Committee on Legislative Audit
The Audit Committee held a public hearing on Tuesday, August 28 to hear testimony from the Department of Health Services, the Legislative Audit Bureau, and Hunger Task Force on some of our safety net programs. The audits we took-up, which were conducted by the Legislative Audit Bureau, included:
During the hearing, we pushed for
departments, like DHS, to continue striving to find efficiencies and
weed out potential fraud. However, it is also crucial that in addressing
that 0.04% of potential fraud found in the audit titled "FoodShare
Benefits Spent Outside of Wisconsin," that these departments do not lose
sight of their main goal. Above all else, we should be ensuring that
Wisconsin's safety net programs are providing neighbors with adequate
and timely access to these life-saving programs during their time of
I often have neighbors contact me looking for my perspective on various local and state issues. I very much appreciate our neighbors' questions and want to dedicate a portion of my newsletter to common questions that I hear to maintain an open dialogue. Please continue reading for this week's question.
Q: I often see you cite documents that have been drafted by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau and the Legislative Audit Bureau in your weekly newsletter. What are these organizations?
A: The Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau and the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau are nonpartisan service agencies created to assist members of the Wisconsin State Legislature. These agencies aim to provide accurate information and detailed statistical analysis without political slant. Therefore, their reports and analysis are often cited by members of the Legislature on both sides of the aisle. Below you can read more about each of these agencies and the role they play in assisting the Legislature.
Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau
This Bureau provides fiscal and
program information and analyses to the Wisconsin Legislature, its
committees, and individual legislators. The Bureau also serves as staff
to the Joint Committee on Finance -- a 16-member Committee, which
reviews and deliberates on legislation affecting state revenues and
appropriations. The primary focus of the Committee's work, and thus,
that of the Bureau, in each legislative session is the state's biennial
Did You Know...?
Many of us have gone to a local restaurant, supper club, or tavern on Fridays from time to time to indulge in a meal of baked or fried fish with plenty of sides. But did you know that the roots of this beloved Wisconsin tradition began with Catholic immigrants and grew more popular during Prohibition?
September is Baby Safety Month
As a new parent, keeping my son safe and healthy is a constant concern and something I think about daily. In recognition of September being National Baby Safety Month, I wanted to bring awareness to a major public health concern--a staggeringly high infant mortality rate--in Southeastern Wisconsin, and Milwaukee especially.
While the city's infant mortality rate has been declining each year and Milwaukee remains on track to reach their goal of reducing the overall rate by 10% by 2017, this is still a concerning issue impacting far too many families in our community. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's in-depth series "Empty Cradle," Milwaukee's 2011 infant mortality rate of 10.2 deaths per 1,000 live births is among the worst for the nation's largest cities.
Milwaukee's infant mortality statistics also show an alarming disparity between infant mortality rates of black and white children. In 2011, the infant mortality rate for white children was 5.0, while the same rate for black children was 14.5, or almost three times higher.
In fact, the black infant mortality
rate in Milwaukee is worse than the overall rate in Ukraine, Ecuador,
Malaysia, and 58 other countries.
According to City of Milwaukee Health Department, there are several leading causes of Milwaukee's high infant mortality rate, including:
The City of Milwaukee has been investing in a public awareness campaign on safe sleep, and will continue this campaign with a new round of advertisements in hopes of raising awareness for infant safety. The new ads demonstrate the safest way for infants to sleep, which is alone, on their backs, and in their own cribs.
The city also has stepped up direct
services to the community by partnering with local organizations
committed to lowering Milwaukee's infant mortality rate. One such
program is the Nurse Family Partnership, a home visiting program that
offers assistance to low-income, first-time pregnant women in four of
the city's most troubled ZIP codes. Our community has also partnered
with the Milwaukee Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families, which was
awarded a grant of $250,000 from the Oversight and Advisory Committee of
the UW School of Medicine and Public Health as part of an initiative
commitment to addressing infant mortality among black children in
Infant mortality is a complex problem impacted by numerous social, economic, and ethnic factors. You can play your part in reducing the infant mortality rate in our community by focusing on increasing safety precautions in your own home. Spend a few days this month checking your infant’s bed and car seat. You can also use the 30-day checklist below to survey your baby's surroundings to ensure a safe home for your infant.
Thank You, Neighbors
This past weekend, St. Francis held their annual St. Francis Days at Vretenar Municipal Park. I was honored to have the opportunity to participate in this family-friendly event that hosts the city's largest parade each year. It was great to talk to so many neighbors throughout the day about issues important to them. A huge thank you to everyone that attended St. Francis Days and to the City of St. Francis and all groups involved for putting together this great event for our community.
Update on IDs for Voters
March 2012, 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 was ruled unconstitutional and two
separate Circuit Court judges ordered government officials to halt
requiring voters to present a valid photo ID when casting their vote. It
was stated in the ruling that 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 carried a severe
risk of disenfranchising voters and was suspended based on the vital
public interest at stake in allowing full participation in elections.
Neighborhood Survey Available
I created a survey asking about various issues that are
important to our community and our state. The input of neighbors is
I look forward to hearing your views on these important issues!
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