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Baldwin: Clean energy bill would aid schools, employers

Passage of a Senate bill aimed at bolstering education and training for students who want to work in clean-energy jobs would benefit schools and factories in Northeastern Wisconsin, the bill’s sponsor said Wednesday in Green Bay.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., said her proposal would help create good-paying jobs in a growing industry, while supporting technical colleges that offer coursework that prepares students for “green energy” careers. The Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation Act, or GREEN, was introduced last week and calls for about $100 million in spending.

“The idea is to make some very prudent, very targeted investments in an area that’s growing … faster than the economy overall,” she said.

The senator met with educators and some students at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s Great Lakes Energy Education Center as part of a statewide tour to tout her bill, introduced last week. NWTC offers programs that prepare students for energy jobs, and is increasing the percentage of its energy supply that comes from green sources.

Scott Liddicott, who teaches energy-management classes at Green Bay Southwest High School, said it’s exciting to hear support for energy education at the federal level.

“It’s so easy to get students and teachers interested in this,” he said. “It’s a compelling and dynamic field. The energy business is really important stuff.”

Baldwin’s bill would allocate grant money for programs that prepare students for jobs, or to attend post-secondary schools. Her office said clean-energy jobs pay about 13 percent better than the average job in the U.S., and the field is growing nearly twice the rate of the national economy.

A hospital in western Wisconsin, she told educators, “completely redid its energy systems” to emphasize green power, and as a result was able to save patients money and avoid staff cuts.

A number of Wisconsin technical college leaders, including NWTC President H. Jeffrey Rafn and Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna K. Foy, have expressed support for the bill. NWTC partners with area school districts, including ones in De Pere and Sturgeon Bay, to deliver energy education, said Amy Kox, the college’s associate dean for energy and sustainability.

A bill similar to Baldwin’s was introduced in the House of Representatives in June and remains in committee, according to govtrack.us, which tracks federal legislation. The bill, by California Democrat Jerry McNerney, also would spend $100 million to develop career and technical education programs, and facilities in the renewable energy field.

Baldwin Wednesday also visited Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, and Milwaukee Area Technical College. She is slated to visit Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids today.

Read more: From greenbaypressgazette.com: "Baldwin: Clean energy bill would aid schools, employers"

Walker calls on lawmakers to approve tax cuts in State of the State address

Wisconsin workers would see more money in their paychecks, under a plan Gov. Scott Walker unveiled Wednesday night.

The governor called for using half of a nearly $1 billion surplus to cut income and property taxes. It was Gov. Walker’s fourth State of the State address.  It was also his most upbeat compared to previous years and lasted about an hour.

The governor says the state’s finances are in great shape and the economy is improving every day. He credited his economic development policies since he took office in 2011.

“A true commitment to real structural reforms for state and local government budgets led to our long term fiscal stability, meaningful tax cuts that keep more money in your pocket rather than requiring you to send it to Madison, changes to laws and regulations that make sense if you’re trying to start a business or find a job, and bipartisan investments and worker training are some of the driving forces behind the strong economic recovery,” Walker says.

Walker then unveiled his plans for spending a $900 million surplus. He called the initiative his “Blueprint for Prosperity,” and promised to reduce income taxes by nearly $100 million.

“Earlier today, I directed Revenue Secretary Rick Chandler to adjust withholding for state income taxes by $322.6 million so you can keep more of your hard earned paychecks. Starting in April, a typical working family of four will see $57.90 more in their paychecks each month,” Walker says.

Walker says he plans to use $400 million to reduce property taxes. He says the typical homeowner would see a $100 reduction on their next bill, nearly four times larger than the property tax relief passed last year.

The governor also wants to earmark $100 million for the state’s rainy day fund. He called for $35 million to be put toward job training, with the focus on several areas.

“First, investment in our technical colleges to eliminate waiting lists in high demand fields like manufacturing, agriculture and information technology. Second, we’ll help high school students get training in high demand jobs through dual enrollment programs between our high schools and technical colleges,” Walker says.

Walker then called the state Legislature into special session beginning Thursday, to immediately get to work on the plan. Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson says he doubts Democrats will support the proposals. He says Democrats would have used the surplus to restore funding to education that Walker cut.

“If Gov. Walker had interest in a healthy, responsible budget he could do the following: return the money stolen from our children’s classrooms to make sure they’ll be ready to enter the 21st century economy, take decisive action to return investments to job training, reinvesting the 30 percent cut that Wisconsin’s technical colleges endured in 2011,” Larson says.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca says he’s concerned the tax cuts would eventually cause another budget shortfall.

“At a time of surplus, that’s a self inflicted wound that we shouldn’t have to absorb. I didn’t think anybody would want to have to return to structural deficits,” Barca says.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke issued a statement following Wednesday night’s speech. She thinks Governor Walker is painting an overly rosy picture of the state’s economy. She says she would use a good chunk of the surplus to pay down the state’s debt.

Read more: From wuwm.com: "Walker calls on lawmakers to approve tax cuts in State of the State address"

Baldwin visits LTC to promote GREEN Act

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin used Lakeshore Technical College to help promote her alternative energy education bill yesterday.  She spoke at the Cleveland campus about the GREEN Act, which stands for Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation.

The bill would provide funding for postsecondary schools with green energy curriculum to expand into the middle and high school levels.  It also would help technical schools fund projects to make them model training facilities for green energy jobs.

Baldwin said the bill will help the growing ‘green collar’ job sector, which currently has more people in it that the fossil fuel field.

While at LTC, Baldwin took time to tour the current wind turbine education facilities and meet with students in the program.

Read more: From whbl.com: "Baldwin visits LTC to promote GREEN Act"

Wisconsin technical college leader backs Walker’s property tax cut plan

The leader of the Wisconsin Technical College System is coming out in support of Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed property tax cut.

Walker’s proposal would replace $406 million in property taxes raised by technical colleges with state money. He does that by lowering the property tax levy technical colleges can assess homeowners by 89 per $1,000 in value.

Technical college system president Morna Foy said in a statement released Thursday that Walker’s plan brings better balance to the system’s funding structure. She says the technical college system has “long sought greater equity between local and state investments.”

Walker’s property tax cut proposal outlined in his State of the State speech from Wednesday is drawing praise from Republicans and Democrats alike.

Baldwin announces legislation to train worker for green jobs

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin on Wednesday, January 22nd, visited technical colleges across Wisconsin to announce her new legislation to help train the next generation of skilled-workers for jobs in clean energy.

Baldwin visited Milwaukee Area Technical College, Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay on Wednesday and will tour Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids on Thursday.

The Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation (GREEN) Act allocates competitive grant funding for clean energy career and technical training programs so that students are better trained for post-secondary education and better equipped for the high-skilled jobs of the future.

“In order to create a Made in Wisconsin economy that is built to last, we must invest in job training and workforce readiness for clean energy jobs. In Wisconsin, we know that higher education is the path to the middle class and this legislation will help open the doors of opportunity and strengthen our Wisconsin economy,” said Baldwin. 

Over three million Americans are employed in the growing green collar workforce, including in clean energy and sustainability, which is more than the amount of people working in the fossil fuel industry, and twice as many as those employed in the biotech industry. In fact, the clean energy sector has grown nearly twice as fast as the overall economy. Additionally, the jobs created in the clean energy economy pay better than the average American job, with compensation rates 13 percent higher than the national average.

“Over the past several years, Wisconsin’s technical colleges have created cutting edge sustainability programs in areas like wind, solar and geothermal. We’ve also “greened” our remaining curriculum by including sustainability concepts in sectors including agriculture, construction and health care.  The GREEN Act supports and advances this work in a ground-breaking way,” said Morna Foy, President Wisconsin Technical College System.

By supporting the development of clean energy career and technical training programs, the GREEN Act creates a bridge between secondary and postsecondary schools so that students can transition from high school with technical knowledge that will be expanded and honed in a postsecondary environment. Post-secondary institutions, local education agencies, career and technical schools, and community partners will use the grants to enter into partnerships to develop these training programs. The bill also provides opportunities for technical schools to upgrade their own energy systems to serve as model training facilities.

“We applaud Senator Baldwin’s introduction of the Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation (GREEN) Act. Supporting the development of Career Technical Education programs of study in the fields of clean, renewable, and efficient energy ensures that the United States will have the skilled workforce it needs for the 21st century. This legislation will help support the growth and development of this critically important sector of our economy and is an essential component to a sustainable future,” said Kimberly Green, Executive Director National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium.

Read more: From fox6now.com: "Baldwin announces legislation to train workers for green jobs"

Referendum would aid dual credit opportunities

APPLETON – About a dozen people braved the cold temperatures Tuesday to see firsthand how the upcoming referendum would impact technical education at Appleton West.

The referendum consists of two questions: One for $25 million to purchase technology and complete capital projects. The other question would allow officials to borrow up to $5 million outside the budget each year. The money would be used to replace outdated technology, perform maintenance projects and cover the salaries and benefits for five instructional technology integrators.

If both questions pass on Feb. 18, people who own homes valued at $150,000 would see the school portion of their property taxes rise $118.50.

Paul Lindberg teaches metals, welding and graphic arts at West. Lindberg showed those in attendance how referendum dollars would expand the technical education area, and allow all the department’s classes to be centrally located.

“Right now we have some of our classes upstairs and some of them downstairs, but if we’re all in one area the kids can move through the classes easier,” Lindberg said.

The lack of updated equipment is keeping Lindberg from training students in additional areas. Lindberg worked with instructors at Fox Valley Technical College over the summer to align three of his courses with their curriculum. Students who take those courses would earn credit through FVTC, but because not all of his equipment is up to industry standards, Lindberg can only teach one of the three classes. That would change if the referendum passes.

Equipment would be updated in the cabinetry/construction lab and the automotive shop as well. The construction space would be expanded and the auto shop would have additional storage, which would give students more space to work.

Julie Painting attended the information session because she has three children who attend West High School and she wanted to learn more.

“It was very helpful,” Painting said. “I’m very impressed that the teachers, the staff want to do what’s best for the students, for the community, and we’re not talking about extravagant spending. We’re talking about just what’s needed to keep up with our economy.”

Other than the technical education areas, West High would receive a secure entrance area and see the kitchen, cafeteria and outside common space remodeled and repurposed. Students who attend West and the district’s other two high schools would be given a mobile device to use — one for every student.

New opportunity for NTC agriculture students

Northcentral Technical College and UW-Platteville are teaming up for a new option for agriculture students.

“Students graduating from NTC’s Agri-Business program may transfer into the Bachelor of Science in Agri-Business program; the Dairy Science Associate Degree will transfer into the Bachelor of Science in Dairy Science; and the Veterinary Science Associate Degree graduates may enter the Bachelor of Science in Animal Science program,” according to a news release from Northcentral Technical College.

“The College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville is very excited to expand our articulation with Northcentral Technical College,” says Jodi McDermott, UW-Platteville Assistant Dean for the College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture. “We are happy to ease the transfer process for more students by expanding the number of courses which are accepted. We look forward to our continuing relationship with NTC and the students.”

For more information: http://www.ntc.edu/transfer

Read more: From waow.com: "New opportunity for NTC agriculture students"

Madison College President addresses capitol MLK ceremony

Wisconsin’s official Martin Luther King Day celebration took place in the Capitol rotunda Monday, and there was a call to action from the event’s keynote speaker, Madison College President Jack E. Daniels. “The achievement gap within our Madison schools in unacceptable,” Daniels said, noting that fifty percent of black students in Madison do not graduate high school on time, and that many African-American adults fail to achieve degrees and marketable skills.

“Dr. King had organized the Poor Peoples Campaign in 1968, in an effort to gain economic justice for poor people in the United States,” Daniels said. “Forty-six years ago, that was the vision. Economic justice must become the reality today.”

This was the 34th annual official state tribute and economy honoring the slain civil rights leader, on the 85th anniversary of King’s birth. The event included recipients of the state’s annual MLK Heritage Awards, Anita Herrera, Ronald C. Dunlap, Dr. Luiz “Tony” Baez and, posthumously, Dr. Eugene Farley.

Read more: From wrn.com: "Capitol ceremony honors MLK"

LTC sponsors Top Tech Award for K-12 staff

CLEVELAND — The deadline for Lakeshore Technical College’s Top Tech Award nominations is Jan. 31. The second annual awards recognize the top educators in career and technical education in Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties.

Four awards will be given to kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers, counselors or administrators who inspire innovation and work to promote career and technical education. The awards will be presented Feb. 20 at a reception at Lakeshore Culinary Institute in Sheboygan.

“This is a great opportunity for students, parents, colleagues and administrators to recognize a teacher who has made a difference in career and technical education at the high school level,” Sara Greenwood, LTC high school liaison coordinator, said in a news release. “The process is easy, and the recognition the winners receive is equally as satisfying as it is to the nominators.”

Nominees should demonstrate innovation in promotion of career and technical education, mentor and inspire students to uncover and pursue their career passions, and participate in outreach activities, according to the release.

Last year’s winners were Ron Schneider and Dave Teske from Kiel High School, representing Manitowoc County, and Ed Hughes of Sheboygan Falls High School, representing Sheboygan County.

For more information, contact Julie Mirecki at (920) 693-1193 or julie.mirecki@gotoltc.edu.

Read more: From htrnews.com: "Deadline approaching for LTC Top Tech nominations"

Hudson students explore healthcare careers at Chippewa Valley Technical College

Camryn Letcher placed the stethoscope on the rubbery surface and listened. “I heard a heartbeat,” the Hudson High School freshman said. “It was really weird because it felt like it was alive, like I was listening to a real person.”

The patient simulators at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) in River Falls bring to life realistic vital signs and symptoms. For Letcher, the experience was closer than she had ever been to real patient care in a clinical setting. “I’m thinking of being a pediatric nurse,” she said.

The trip to CVTC was part of the Hudson High School Healthcare Discovery Day, which also included visits to Hudson Hospital and Catalyst Sports Medicine in Hudson.

Forty-one Hudson freshmen took part in the day-long event. At CVTC, in addition to checking out vital signs on the adult and infant patient simulators, the students learned how to use a hypodermic needle by practicing on an orange, tried on neck braces, tried out various medical testing devices and talked with faculty about careers in healthcare.

“They seemed very engaged,” said CVTC Nursing Instructor Renee Christensen, R.N. “Simulation is very exciting for this age group, and they asked good questions.”

“The purpose of the event is to provide students with the opportunity to explore healthcare careers, to understand what career ladders are, and to see how they can bring value to the community,” said Melisa Hansen, school-to-careers coordinator at Hudson High School.

Healthcare Discovery Day was made possible by a $2,500 grant from the nonprofit Northwest Area Health Education Sector. Students registered for the event.

“They were asked why they wanted to come, and a lot of them already had their eyes on high-level health care careers,” said Hansen. Others just wanted to explore. They got a good taste of it during the three on-site visits.

Christensen showed the students a video of a full-scale emergency room scenario in which students interacted with professionals in a mock response to victims from an auto accident coming in for treatment. Patient simulators and even live actors were used to depict various conditions in the fast-paced environment.

“That is really good experience for students,” Christensen said of the video scenario. “Sometimes they make mistakes, and sometimes we allow them to make mistakes, because it’s not going to hurt anyone. They’ll probably never make that mistake again.

“I’ve had students get really involved in the simulations, and cry when a (simulated) baby comes in,” Christensen continued.

The students found their experiences with the simulators and the information on the training involved in healthcare careers much more interesting than what they usually experience in a high school classroom.

“I’m thinking about being a physical therapist,” said Braxton Belt. “I really liked the simulators. We listened to the heart and lungs.”

“It’s really interesting to see how it’s done in the real world,” said Logan Nelson, who is considering a career in sports medicine.

Students like Nelson and Kyla Schewe, who is also considering a sports medicine career, had the opportunity to see the profession up close in a visit to Catalyst Sports Medicine that afternoon, where they viewed the treatment of a simulated injury.

At Hudson Hospital, ninth-graders learned about an array of healthcare careers with educational and hands-on learning opportunities. Sarah Stockman, manager, laboratory, Hudson Hospital & Clinics, is the hospital representative on the healthcare advisory council. Her role is to partner with the council to offer educational experiences for students that are leaning towards a career in healthcare.

“It’s great to get a chance to help our high school students discover all the career options that are available to them in the healthcare field. We hope to inspire them to continue their education and become healthcare professionals,” said Stockman.

Students learned about various healthcare careers from hospital staff including lab, dietary, Birth Center and Surgery & Procedure Center. They also toured the Emergency Center, Imaging Center and Rehabilitation Center Physical Therapy.

At the hospital, they also watched the simulated resuscitation of a choking baby, met with a dietician and observed lab work, among other activities.

“We wanted them to see that healthcare is a profession in which they need 21st century skills, like problem solving, team building and critical thinking,” Hansen said. “This experience provided relevance. They follow the routine at school, and they didn’t have an understanding of what goes on outside of school.”

Hansen added that the Healthcare Discovery Day was a teambuilding exercise for the students. “They were learning together today. There’s power in that.”

In planning the day, Hudson High School staff worked with a community advisory council of professionals in healthcare and education. Hansen said they are very appreciative of the help of the council members, as well as the cooperation of Catalyst Sports Medicine, Hudson Hospital and CVTC.

“The people here are absolutely amazing and I applaud them,” she said.

The grant was only able to fund this year’s event, with any leftover funds being used for healthcare career exploration. To continue the program on an annual basis, either additional grants or school district funding will be needed, Hansen said.

Read more: From hudsonstarobserver.com: "Hudson students explore healthcare careers"

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