WI Government Framework Textbook The Framework of Your Wisconsin Government -- A textbook every citizen should have

August 2013  •  Vol. 18 No. 1
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  • Summary
  • Press Release
  • This is the only text book that specifically covers Wisconsin state and local government. It's used in high schools and colleges across the state. It's also perfect for citizens thinking about running for office or those who just want to  understand whose in charge, how the money flows and how things are supposed to work.

    The Framework's 137 pages are divided into chapters on each unit of government so it can be read in whole or in part. It's full-color, professionally bound and has links to reliable online resources.

    This 135-page book is highly popular as a supplemental text in high schools to help teachers comply with the Model Academic Standards for civics set by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

    College instructors use it to train journalism and political science students.

    It's also great for new voters, aspiring community leaders, and those seeking citizenship.

    The Framework contains facts and figures from the 2013-15 state budget, charts, graphs, and anecdotal and historical information that makes civics education timely for readers of all ages. 

    It's professionally bound with a flexible but durable cover. It includes photographs, pictures and tables for visual learners.

    The Framework has a new section on understanding the state budget process and a new section on elections and political parties. It provides essential information on state, county, city, village, town and school governments in Wisconsin.

    It's great for classrooms, civic groups, youth groups, and people new to Wisconsin who want to understand how things are supposed to work in the Badger state.

    The Framework explains how Wisconsin's history led to our current institutions. It includes explanations on the legislative process, administrative rules, public records, open meetings, tribal government, and separation of powers, among many other things.

    To help classroom teachers, this new edition has several supplemental materials available for seperate purchase: a digital version for easy class instruction; full-color PowerPoint lectures; student worksheets, quizzes, extended readings, constructivist  activities, and links to other on-line resources.

    Table of Contents



    Chapter 1 -- Wisconsin: Its People, Economy, and Government

    Covers population patterns, political thought that influenced the state's founding and development, units of government, tribal government, and how government changes.

    Chapter 2 -- Political Paties and Elections

    Covers the role of political parties, the news media, interest groups, lobbyists, casting your vote, and the public records law.

    Chapter 3 -- The State Constitution & the Legislative Branch

    Covers the state constitution, the Legislature, Legislative leaders and making new laws.

    Chapter 4 -- The Judicial and Executive Branch

    Covers the state court system, the governor's office and cabinets, state government organization, and state agencies.

    Chapter 5 -- State Government -- State Budget Overveiw

    Covers financing state government, the state budget process, revenues, expenditures, and state-local interactions

    Chapter 6 -- Counties

    Covers the county's role, unique county offices, different leadership systems, role of county board/executives/administrators, county activities and financing.

    Chapter 7 -- Towns

    Covers various kinds of towns, service problems, powers, finances, and the town hall meeting.

    Chapter 8 -- Cities and Villages

    Covers the differences between cities/villages, boundary issues, finances, and property tax systems.

    Chapter 9 -- Education

    Covers state supervision, types of elementary/high schools, financing schools, alternatives to public schools, the WI Technical College system and the University of Wisconsin system.

    Chapter 10 -- Getting Involved

    Covers how politics is democracy in action, the continuum of political action; apathy, casting an informed vote; running for office, and civil disobedience



  • Todd A. Berry or Sharon Schmeling

    Wisconsin Civics Education Gets a Boost

    WISTAX Launches New Teaching Effort to Improve Citizenship

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    MADISON—As students dig into a fresh school year, they are being greeted by a new Wisconsin civics curriculum that aims to help improve citizenship across the state.

    With the recent release of The Framework of Your Wisconsin Government textbook, the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX) is continuing decades of effort to foster civil dialogue and cooperation in state and local government and politics.

    "In recent years, outside observers of Wisconsin politics and government have lamented the changing tone in public debates," said Todd Berry, President of WISTAX, an independent, nonpartisan organization dedicated to citizen education and government research since 1932.

    "We fear that this decline in civility may result from lack of effort to promote civics education," he said, noting that only 24% of American 12th graders performed at or above proficiency in civics, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress 2010 civics assessment (the most recent results available).

    "We decided to help address this problem by overhauling our civics curriculum to help students better understand the Wisconsin government they are inheriting," Berry said.

    The Framework, which just became available, is being ordered by schools across the state. It has been updated 17 times since it was first published in 1955 and is widely used in grades 8-12, technical college GED programs, and college courses in political science and journalism.

    The newest edition highlights for the first time the state budget process and includes facts from the 2013-15 state budget. It takes an in-depth look at the unique aspects of school, town, city, village, county, and state governments. The textbook explains how property taxes are calculated and discusses the open records and open meeting laws. It also details how students can get involved and take ownership for our democracy.

    Berry noted that the new Framework curriculum comes at a time when state and national leaders are calling for improved focus on civics education. Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has noted with alarm that more Americans can name the winner of American Idol than a Supreme Court Justice.

    Such concerns have been echoed by Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers and Wisconsin Supreme Court justices, who have been visiting schools to "talk civics."

    Berry said the goal behind improving civics education is not a utopian vision.

    "In a representative democracy, disagreements will always exist. But we believe that citizens cannot have productive and civil discussions with one another, or their elected officials, if they don’t understand how government works, when and where it makes decisions, and what they can do to affect those decisions."

    "Understanding basic facts about our state and local government is an essential building block of civility," he said.

    The Framework complies with DPI standards on civics education, and is available in paper and digital formats. The full-color book includes easy-to-read charts and illustrations.

    For the first time, WISTAX has also produced digital-only teacher tool kits with PowerPoint presentations, hands-on activities, worksheets, quizzes, and real-life simulations to bring civics alive to students.

    In addition to helping schools meet the statutory requirement to teach state and local government, The Framework is also suitable for community groups or book clubs that want to help citizens brush-up on their knowledge of state and local government.

    One example, Berry said, is a budget-cutting simulation that brings home the hard challenges facing elected officials and the public when it comes to making decisions about valued programs and public money.

    "That exercise would be a great activity for many community groups," he added.

    WISTAX is also looking for sponsors to make the textbook available to every library in the state, or to provide a free copy to every one of the 1,600 students attending Badger Boys and Girls State leadership programs next summer.

    A free preview of The Framework of Your Wisconsin Government is available at http://wistax.org/publications/framework-textbook. You can order online or call WISTAX for more information at 608.241.9789.

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