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Author: Wisconsin Watch

A vicious cycle: Wisconsin’s quality of education for children with special needs continues to flounder

Over the past five decades, state support for special education has dwindled, with staff shortages and turnover making it more difficult to provide required services. From the time she wakes up in the morning until the time she goes to bed at night, Green Bay parent Denise Seibert’s life centers around her son, Tyler. At just two weeks old, Tyler was diagnosed with fragile X syndrome, a genetic condition that causes a range of developmental problems, including learning disabilities and cognitive impairment. “I carry a genetic disorder, an autism spectrum genetic disorder, so we had my son tested very...

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Health care’s blind spot: Despite dire risks many nursing home staff in Wisconsin reject COVID vaccine

Hannah Miller, a nursing student and employee of a long-term care facility received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on August 23, and not voluntarily. “(The vaccine) hasn’t been out long enough to know what long term effects are,” Miller said. “We don’t know if it could cause bigger health issues in the future or cause issues, such as fertility.” Miller said she was required to receive the vaccine by the hospital where she is completing her clinicals for school. She said she would not be able to graduate without getting it. Miller asked that her school and...

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Reggie Jackson: Governmental compensation for slavery and racism is part of America’s national debt

Reggie Jackson, a writer for the Milwaukee Independent and the former head griot, or oral historian, at America’s Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee, has a long history of military service in his family stretching back to the Civil War. But when two of his uncles who served in World War II returned to their home state of Mississippi, they found their veteran status wasn’t enough to reap the benefits of the GI Bill passed in 1944. This is because Jackson’s uncles were Black. The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act provided veterans with financial aid to reduce the possibility of a post-World...

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Closing the wealth gap: Milwaukee considers providing basic income to heal racial inequity

Towanda Perkins is a single mother with two grown sons. She works as an office manager at a nonprofit organization in Milwaukee. During the pandemic, she has seen many mothers with children who have lost their jobs and been evicted by landlords. Perkins is expecting to see more homelessness once the temporary halt on certain evictions issued by the CDC, recently extended to October 3, ends. Between June and November of last year, the national poverty rate increased by 2.4% overall — but 3.1% for Black Americans, according to economists from the University of Chicago and the University of...

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A system on overload: How the COVID-19 pandemic could alter Wisconsin’s system of incarceration

Even before COVID-19 began to snake through Wisconsin’s jails and prisons, Chad Billeb saw a storm coming. As chief deputy for the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department, Billeb was already studying ways to reduce the number of inmates in the jail, a challenge that county leaders have been examining for years. As early as 2017, overcrowding was such a central issue that staff and outside experts concluded that the county would need a new $75 million jail. The pandemic’s arrival brought new urgency to the overcrowding problem. A similar story played out in jails and prisons across Wisconsin and the...

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Fearing Eviction: Milwaukee-area residents endure long waits to receive federal rental assistance

Freda Young had to move quickly in November. A dispute with her upstairs neighbor made staying in her home unsafe, she said. The Milwaukee woman was juggling moving and caring for her daughter, who suffers from seizures. Three months had passed without an update on the status of her application for thousands of dollars in rental assistance. Young was terrified she and her two children would be left homeless. A couple who asked to be identified as Ester and Jose Pérez because they lack permission to be in the United States also waited months to learn whether their request...

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