Bill Expanding Opt-Out Options For Tests, Bad Allergy Seasons In Wisconsin, Dems On The WEDC

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A proposed bill in the state legislature would allow more students to opt out of standardized tests, but opponents say it could affect school funding and education standards. We get the latest on the bill, and how it would impact schools around Wisconsin. We also learn how difficult allergy seasons are becoming the new normal, and speak with two lawmakers who are calling for the CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to resign.

Featured in this Show

  • Republican-Sponsored Bill Would Expand Opt-Out Options For Wisconsin Students

    A new bill in Wisconsin would expand the number of tests parents could opt their children out of taking. The bill is backed by Republicans and is partly in response to a national wave of anti-Common Core sentiment. An education reporter explains how this bill could change current opt-out policies in Wisconsin.

  • Is Climate Change Prolonging Allergy Season?

    Every year media reports proclaim the allergy season to be the worst ever, and are quick to then point to global warming as the culprit. However, based on what a University of Wisconsin allergist has to say, those reports aren’t always right.

    Mark Moss is an allergist and director of the Clinical Research Program in allergy, asthma and pulmonary research at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinic. He said that despite reports of the coming “pollen tsunami” and “pollen vortex,” this year has actually been an average year for pollen counts, brought about by the fairly temperate late spring temperatures and rain.

    “Every season can’t be the worst, and they don’t keep progressively getting worse each year — otherwise we’d be drowning in pollen,” he said.

    As for whether or not global warming is responsible for causing more extreme allergy seasons, he said research shows that rising temperatures have “clearly affected” the ragweed pollen season in the upper Midwest. Ragweed consistently begins pollinating in August and continues until the first hard frost. In the past, that typically happened in early-to-mid October. But in the past 20 years, said Moss, the frost has occurred later.

    “Now is that all due to global warming or something else? I can’t comment on that,” he said. “But the fact that the pollen season is longer argues that we’re getting warmer temperatures longer and the frost is coming later. And if you have a ragweed allergy, it really means you’re going to have a longer duration of symptoms.”

    Moss said allergy sufferers in Wisconsin and the Midwest typically deal with three waves of pollen. The first arrives in spring with tree pollen, the duration and intensity of which fluctuates with the weather. Grass pollens dominate the middle of summer. And lastly, ragweed pollens fill the air from late summer to early fall.

    For Wisconsinites who are allergic to all three pollens, it can make for a tough stretch of coughing, sneezing and breathing.

    “Here in Wisconsin, we certainly have allergy seasons that do overlap from spring to the fall,” Moss said.

  • Democrats Call For Walker Jobs Agency CEO To Resign

    The two Democrats on the board that oversees the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, known as Governor Walker’s flagship job agency, are calling for the organization’s CEO to resign.

    Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca from Kenosha and Senator Julie Lassa from Stevens Point made that announcement Wednesday, after recent reports that the agency awarded more than two dozen loans totaling $124 million without proper reviews.

Episode Credits

  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Amanda Magnus Producer
  • Marika Suval Producer
  • Galen Druke Producer
  • Erin Richards Guest
  • Mark H. Moss Guest
  • Peter Barca Guest
  • Julie Lassa Guest

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