- Associated Press - Thursday, January 23, 2014
Twitter gaining acceptance as a classroom tool

WAUWATOSA, Wis. (AP) - Chris Lazarski watched his students interact with Twitter and other social media sites in class, and didn’t order them to close their laptops or put away their cellphones. Instead, he encouraged them to keep going.

“Keep tweeting - it’s free,” he said. “Keep those comments going.”

Many school officials frown upon students tweeting in class, but others have embraced social media as a learning tool. They say sites like Twitter can enhance learning by expanding classroom discussions to include input from thousands of other students across the nation.

Lazarski, who teaches public policy at Wauwatosa West High School in suburban Milwaukee, is using Twitter in classroom conversations about current events. During a recent class, he spent about 20 minutes discussing zero-tolerance policies in high school and then invited students to log on to continue the conversation through classroom Twitter accounts.

“Let’s get our tweet on,” said Lazarski, 41, and the room fell silent except for the sound of clacking keyboards. The 29 students tweeted their thoughts - in a short sentence or two. Some targeted industry experts while others retweeted articles that elaborated on their own viewpoints.

Lazarski’s classroom exercise is part of a larger program organized by KQED, a public television station in San Francisco, and used by more than 120 teachers in California, Oregon, Kentucky, Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, West Virginia and New York. The KQED “Do Now” program posts weekly topics, videos and articles designed to stimulate Twitter conversations.

Tim Olson, the vice president of digital media and education at KQED, said Twitter enhances discussions involving elections, politics and international events because students across multiple geographic regions can raise thoughtful arguments that may be absent from more homogenous classrooms.

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Walker expects bipartisan support for tax cuts

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker said Thursday that increasing the state’s projected budget shortfall will not be a deal breaker for his proposed half billion-dollar tax cut plan, even though some Republican senators have raised concerns about it.

Walker said he expects his $504 million property and income tax cut plan to pass with bipartisan support, even though Democrats have been quick to criticize it and some Republican senators have said they want to see changes.

Republicans are zeroing in on the fact that the plan would increase the state’s projected shortfall heading into the 2015 budget from about $700 million to $800 million. That shortfall, however, does not take into account any revenue growth, which Walker expects to more than cover the difference.

“One or two people have raised the concern,” Walker said in response to questions following a speech at a meeting of the Wisconsin Grocers Association. “I don’t think that it’s a deal breaker.”

Walker outlined his “Blueprint for Prosperity” in his State of the State speech on Wednesday night and then touted it across Wisconsin, making stops Thursday in La Crosse, Madison, De Pere and Hurley.

The tax cuts are made possible by $912 million in revenue above previous projections. Walker argued that the money ought to be returned to taxpayers.

“The budget surplus is really your money,” he said at the grocers meeting. “You earned it.”

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Walker speaks out against raising minimum wage

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker lashed out Thursday against Democratic proposals to raise the minimum wage, calling them a “political grandstanding stunt” that will kill jobs.

Walker was addressing a friendly crowd at a meeting of the Wisconsin Grocers Association, a group that opposes increasing the minimum wage. Democrats both nationally and in Wisconsin and other states are pushing for increasing it.

The proposal is going nowhere in Wisconsin, where Republicans who control the Senate and Assembly have it bottled up in committee. But that didn’t stop Walker from speaking out against the idea.

“I think it is nothing more than a misguided political stunt,” he said of Democrats’ efforts to raise the wage. Doing that will only lead to the elimination of entry-level jobs and cut pay for other workers, Walker said.

“If you want to put a buzz saw on the economic recovery we’ve seen in this state, you just start piling on regulations like increasing the minimum wage,” Walker said. Later, he called it “little more than a political grandstanding stunt” advanced by people who want to claim they’re helping workers when they’re really not.

The sponsor of one bill that would increase the wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour said Walker is out of touch with reality.

“If he really thinks that raising wages for people making minimum wage is a political stunt, then he shouldn’t be governor,” said state Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine. “If he’s really that out of touch with where people are who are struggling to get by in this state, he shouldn’t be governor.”

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Green Bay mother, son die in murder-suicide

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) - Police say the deaths of a Green Bay mother and son are being ruled a murder-suicide.

Thirty-three-year-old April Veraghen and her 9-year-old son, Damien, were found dead Tuesday in an apartment on the city’s west side.

WLUK-TV reports (https://bit.ly/1eWgpv0https://bit.ly/1eWgpv0 ) preliminary autopsy results released Thursday show the boy was intentionally suffocated and his death will be ruled a homicide.

Police say they suspect April Veraghen died from a combination of prescription drugs and suffocation. Her death will be ruled a suicide.

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Information from: WLUK-TV, https://www.fox11online.comhttps://www.fox11online.com

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