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The Conservative Case for Public School Open Enrollment

June 15, 2023

Key PointsAmerica's school choice moment has finally arrived. More states are adopting private school choice programs that provide universal access to education savings accounts. But the traditional public system serves the vast majority of students and will for the foreseeable future; those students deserve more choice as well.Public school choice, which allows students to transfer to schools outside their zoned district, has shown great promise in increasing access to educational opportunities and spurring improvements across school districts.Few states, however, have implemented effective public school choice programs. Policymakers would be wise to learn lessons from the nation's most successful public school choice program—in Wisconsin.

Primary and reproductive healthcare access and use among reproductive aged women and female family planning patients in 3 states

May 24, 2023

Public funding plays a key role in reducing cost barriers to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) care in the United States. In this analysis, we examine sociodemographic and healthcare seeking profiles of individuals in three states where public funding for health services has recently changed: Arizona, Iowa, and Wisconsin. In addition, we examine associations between individuals' health insurance status and whether they experienced delays or had trouble in obtaining their preferred contraception. This descriptive study draws on data collected between 2018 to 2021 in two distinct cross-sectional surveys in each state, one among a representative sample of female residents aged 18–44 and the other among a representative sample of female patients ages eighteen and older seeking family planning services at healthcare sites that receive public funding to deliver this care. The majority of reproductive-aged women and female family planning patients across states reported having a personal healthcare provider, had received at least one SRH service in the preceding 12 months, and were using a method of birth control. Between 49–81% across groups reported receiving recent person-centered contraceptive care. At least one-fifth of each group reported wanting healthcare in the past year but not getting it, and between 10–19% reported a delay or trouble getting birth control in the past 12 months. Common reasons for these outcomes involved cost and insurance-related issues, as well as logistical ones. Among all populations except Wisconsin family planning clinic patients, those with no health insurance had greater odds of being delayed or having trouble getting desired birth control in the past 12 months than those with health insurance. These data serve as a baseline to monitor access and use of SRH services in Arizona, Wisconsin, Iowa in the wake of drastic family planning funding shifts that changed the availability and capacity of the family planning service infrastructure across the country. Continuing to monitor these SRH metrics is critical to understand the potential effect of current political shifts.

Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Recommendations

May 18, 2023

The Northeast Wisconsin Mental Health Connection (The Connection) has shared a new report on recommendations to improve the mental health of adults in the Fox Valley. Raising the minimum wage; increasing walk-in services for mental health care; speeding up the state licensure approval process for new therapists; and adopting social connectedness strategies are among the more than 40 recommendations outlined in the report. The recommendations are based on findings from the 2021 Mind Your Wellness Survey, a local survey conducted by The Connection that was designed to collect population-level data on several mental health and suicide-related indicators. A total of 1,259 adults from Calumet, Outagamie and Winnebago counties took the survey during the pandemic. The impetus for the survey was the alarming – and growing – suicide rate in the Fox Valley, which increased by 66 percent between 2010 and 2018. The pandemic only exacerbated mental health challenges for the overall population.

Wealth Opportunities Realized Through Homeownership (WORTH): Baseline Report

May 15, 2023

This report is part of an evaluation of the Wealth Opportunities Realized through Homeownership (WORTH) initiative. Led by the Wells Fargo Foundation, WORTH supports efforts to close persistent disparities in homeownership in Atlanta, Houston, Milwaukee, New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, San Diego, and rural and tribal areas. In each market, we examine housing supply and demand, homebuying activity, homeownership trends, and preservation conditions. We found that in almost every market, white households have higher homeownership rates than every other racial or ethnic group. Moreover, macroeconomic forces driving market conditions, like higher interest rates and moderating house prices, can significantly dampen or thwart market collaboratives' efforts to boost homeownership rates for people of color. Future evaluation will examine the implementation processes used in each market. The larger body of work contributes to understanding the crucial connection between homeownership and wealth-building and the multitude of barriers that households of color face in achieving homeownership. It also supports research-backed strategies for increasing homeownership for households of color and for reducing racial disparities.

Transforming Communities One Grant at a Time: Impact Report 2023

May 3, 2023

This report features stories of our communities coming together to address needs. Donors with similar passions have co-invested to support important programs and projects. Organizations have found new, meaningful ways to collaborate. And funders are taking risks and encouraging grantees to experiment with new approaches to solving long-standing challenges.

This land is our land: The past and future of conservation funding in Wisconsin

March 30, 2023

From the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior to the banks of the Mississippi River, Wisconsin has a wealth of natural resources and a population who prizes them. From hunting and fishing to camping, hiking, and bicycling, Wisconsinites pursue outdoor pastimes at higher than average rates. The state's natural resources are also key to its economy, drawing in visitors and tourism dollars and fueling the forest products and waterborne shipping industries.Yet the state's heritage also faces challenges, from climate change to urbanization, development, invasive species, overcrowding in some parks, and changing patterns in outdoor recreation itself. Historically, the state has responded to threats like these with innovative conservation programs championed by prominent figures such as Aldo Leopold, Gaylord Nelson, and Warren Knowles.In light of these challenges, this report explores new options for funding conservation. The study reviews Wisconsin's natural assets and rich history of outdoor pursuits, the state's current conservation financing mechanisms, and approaches used in other states. Though the revenue streams funding environmental regulation lie largely outside the scope of this report, our findings do have a limited bearing on environmental quality as well.

Clean Jobs Midwest 2022 Report

December 12, 2022

Clean Jobs Midwest is an annual report based on survey data on clean energy employment in 12 Midwestern states.These states include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The Midwest's clean energy industry employed 714,323 people in sectors including renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, advanced transportation, grid and storage, and clean fuels at the end of 2021. 

Free Voices– Democracy Ensured: Advocating for Change for Eligible Voters in Jail

November 15, 2022

The ACLU of Wisconsin Union offers recommendations that would help ease barriers to jail-based voting. These recommendations follow the ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation's statewide analysis on jail voting in October, which found that eligible voters incarcerated in Wisconsin jails continue to face numerous obstacles when attempting to exercise their right to vote.The report lays out solutions for the short, medium and long term, providing county sheriffs and jail administrators with a foundation for how to design systems that will not only enable eligible voters to access the ballot but also empower them to engage further in our democratic process.

Ballots for All: Ensuring Wisconsinites in Jail Have Voting Access 2022

October 17, 2022

As seen in the 2020 and 2021 "Ballots for All: Ensuring Eligible Wisconsinites in Jail Have Equal Access to Voting," many of Wisconsin's county jails lacked documented, robust, and practiced jail voting policies, which in turn resulted in unacceptable jail-voter participation in the 2020 presidential election. In Wisconsin alone, there are approximately 13,000 individuals in county jails; stunningly, only 50 of whom cast their ballot in 2020.This report aims to analyze previous steps taken and any progress by Wisconsin jail administrators to address formerly identified challenges and shortfalls in their respective jail voting policies, which can itself facilitate widespread de facto disenfranchisement in Wisconsin. Furthermore, this update aims to highlight the fundamental and intersectional barriers that prevent eligible Wisconsinites, both within and outside of the carceral system, from fully participating in the voting process.

Wisconsin’s Special Education Funding Crunch: How State Underfunding Disproportionately Harms Students in High-Poverty Districts

October 11, 2022

This report examines how the lack of state support for special education impacts the funding available to educate children in Wisconsin school districts.

ACLU WI 2021 Annual Report

September 28, 2022

This year, our team traveled the state, attending the Joint Finance Budget hearings scattered across Wisconsin, demanding a budget that reflected the will of the people — one grounded in justice, equity and investment in communities — especially in marginalized communities. We remained committed to challenging the criminalization and incarceration of young people, recognizing that children are still developing and instead should be given opportunities for treatment, rehabilitation, and positive reinforcement. As a result, we continue to advocate for the closure of the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake youth prisons after a monitor report showed an increase in the use of force, restraints, and improper use of solitary confinement. We also remained active in the fight for student's rights — celebrating our recent win that ordered the Burlington Area School District to submit a written plan detailing the steps they would take to prevent further discrimination in displicine and address the racially hostile environment present in its schools. A legal precedent which would go on to achieving similar outcomes in other Wisconsin districts.

The Jail-to-Deportation Pipeline in Wisconsin: How Sheriff's Offices Are Incentivized to Cooperate with the ICE Deportation Machine

August 25, 2022

The ACLU of Wisconsin published an extensive, statewide report which investigates the nature of immigration enforcement in Wisconsin and details how close collaboration between local law enforcement and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is fueling the deportation of immigrants. The report reveals that law enforcement agencies throughout Wisconsin have received millions of dollars in federal grant funding for providing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with information on incarcerated immigrants who are identified as or suspected to be undocumented – with Walthworth County even sharing information about naturalized US citizens.