Taxpayer-funded vouchers make eligible families better able to afford a private school education, but students who are LGBTQ+ or have disabilities lose rights they would have in the public school system. (Amena Saleh / Wisconsin Watch)
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Phoebe Petrovic reports on the Wisconsin School Choice program providing taxpayer funding to private schools that enforce religious policies banning LGBTQ+ students and allowing them to expel students with disabilities. Phoebe spoke with a top student at Fox Valley Lutheran High School who was told to break up with her girlfriend or face expulsion. She reviewed school policies at one-third of the choice program schools and found nearly half had policies or statements that appeared to discriminate against students who are LGBTQ+ or have disabilities. Because of state and federal laws, state officials say there is little they can do.

Also this week: We published reporter Zhen Wang’s investigation of Milwaukee Tool’s supply chain. She revealed allegations that Chinese prisoners were forced to make work gloves for pennies each day under grueling conditions. 

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Education
Taxpayer-funded vouchers make eligible families better able to afford a private school education, but students who are LGBTQ+ or have disabilities lose rights they would have in the public school system. (Amena Saleh / Wisconsin Watch)

False choice: Wisconsin taxpayers support schools that can discriminate

Wisconsin Watch — May 5, 2023

In 2022, the two Fox Valley Lutheran High School students were a few months from graduating when they got called into the dean’s office. One was the cheerleading captain and National Honor Society inductee; the other a basketball player, homecoming queen and student council member. Both were accomplished and well-respected students. Yet in separate meetings with the dean, they learned they faced expulsion — not for cheating or plagiarizing or breaking the law, but because administrators suspected the young women of dating. 

Related story: Considering a Wisconsin voucher school? Here’s what parents of children who are LGBTQ+ or have a disability should know.


Economy
Shi Minglei, the wife of an imprisoned Chinese human rights activist Cheng Yuan, fled to the United States in 2021 and now lives in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. She is calling for Brookfield-Wis.-based Milwaukee Tool to stop sourcing gloves made from forced prison labor in China. A Milwaukee Tool spokesperson says the company has “found no evidence to support” allegations about forced labor. Shi is shown in Minneapolis on Feb. 19, 2023. (Ariana Lindquist for Wisconsin Watch)

Chinese prisoners: We were forced to make Milwaukee Tool gloves for cents each day

Wisconsin Watch — May 4, 2023

Wisconsin Watch reporter Zhen Wang interviewed in Mandarin several Chinese workers who made gloves for Milwaukee Tool in a prison earning pennies a day. The company denied the allegations saying its own investigations “found no evidence to support the claims being made.”


Elections
BLOC canvasser Janice Agnew checks addresses before knocking on doors and greeting residents in Milwaukee, reminding people to vote on April 4, 2023. (Pat Robinson for Wisconsin Watch)

Voting has gotten harder in Wisconsin. Organizers have found ways to help

Wisconsin Watch — May 2, 2023

In his final story for Wisconsin Watch, democracy reporter Matt Mencarini offers insight into how Wisconsin has continued to produce high turnout elections despite the state becoming one of the least hospitable places for voting. Wisconsin once ranked fourth for ease in registering and voting, but as of 2022 ranked 47th. The fall came as other states adopted measures like same-day voter registration, and Wisconsin Republicans implemented a host of “election integrity” measures including one of the strictest voter ID laws in the nation.

Matt has left Wisconsin Watch to take a job with the Lansing State Journal. We will miss him! We are searching for a new reporter to fill his shoes on the statehouse team.


State budget

Wisconsin Republicans kill legalized pot, stadium repairs

The Associated Press — May 2, 2023

The Legislature’s budget committee began work on the state budget Tuesday by stripping out hundreds of Gov. Tony Evers’ proposals, effectively starting the process from scratch.


Local government

Evers promises to veto GOP local aid increase plan

The Associated Press — May 2, 2023

Wisconsin counties, cities, villages and towns (especially Milwaukee) are starved for cash. The Republican-controlled Legislature wants to get tough on crime (especially in Milwaukee). And so Republican lawmakers introduced a shared revenue bill this week outside the normal budget process, which means it can’t be line-item vetoed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, only taken or left. It delivers $176 million in additional aid to local governments and allows Milwaukee to raise a sales tax by referendum, but it also includes several Republican policy goals such as requiring police officers in Milwaukee schools, prohibits local advisory referendums (so no more of these), bans public health officials from shutting down businesses for more than two weeks during a pandemic without approval from local government (the Supreme Court ruled on this issue last year) and allows any town or municipality with land that’s part of a Knowles-Nelson Stewardship project to block state funding. Evers on Thursday promised to veto the bill.


Crime and justice

Unsolved 4: A missing girl, a search for truth

USA TODAY — May 3, 2023

A new season of Unsolved from USA Today features a missing Black girl from Milwaukee and puts a spotlight on why so many Black children in America go missing and are never found. Listen to the first episode here.


Entertainment

Gordon Lightfoot’s nearly 50-year bond with Wisconsin

Wisconsin State Journal — May 3, 2023

Barry Adams gives a fitting tribute to the passing of an American troubadour and his unique ties to Wisconsin.


Access to some stories listed in the Wisconsin Weekly roundup may be limited to subscribers of the news organizations that produced them. We urge our readers to consider supporting these important news outlets by subscribing. 

Thanks for reading!

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