Series

Years of budget cuts, increased state funding for private schools, Act 10, an increase in teacher retirements and a decrease in young educators entering the workforce have reshaped the face of public education in Wisconsin over the past decade. But these changes are amplified in rural school districts around the state. Many of Wisconsin's rural counties are slowly losing population, which results in shrinking school enrollment numbers and local tax bases, putting pressure on districts budgets. With a growing teacher shortage nationwide, schools in sparsely populated areas struggle to attract new staff. At the same time, districts across the state are increasingly turning to referendums to fill the funding gap.More
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More Wisconsinites have become homeless since the Great Recession, but their numbers have proven difficult to track. In fact, different methods of counting the homeless yield wildly different numbers. But it's clear that homelessness spans both urban and rural areas in Wisconsin, and is having a huge impact on children and families, not just single adults. Researchers, advocates and policymakers across the state are exploring new approaches to address homelessness, from experimenting with the "housing-first" model to proposing controversial ordinances that restrict where people can sleep or ask for money.More
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The pursuit of knowledge about Wisconsin's flora and fauna is not just the province of professional researchers. Public participation in science has woven itself into Wisconsin's history of naturalism and conservation, an important complement to work in the state's research universities and regulatory agencies. People around the state have volunteered their time to help with everything from monitoring invasive insect pests to observing Wisconsin's bat and bird populations. People who participate in civic or citizen science have the opportunity to develop a closer connection with the natural world, and a chance to develop greater understanding of and consensus around environmental issues. Wisconsinites who aren't scientists in their daily lives also can and do undertake all sorts of projects to help address environmental challenges, from building rain gardens to fostering habitat for monarch butterflies.More
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The health system in the U.S. is built upon a complex and interlocking series of relationships between medical providers, insurers, the federal and state governments, employers and the people who require preventive care and treatment throughout their lives. The enactment of the Affordable Care Act, one goal of which was securing coverage for more Americans, has profoundly transformed this system since its implementation, including in Wisconsin. At the same time, the political contentiousness of the law has added complexity and uncertainty to the health care decisions Americans make, and the future of the health care system continues to be an open question.More
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Agriculture is a cornerstone of the Wisconsin economy, and farmers across the state rely on international markets for customers. The commodities exported around the world include some of Wisconsin's most common agricultural products, including cheese and soybeans, as well as a host of specialized products that have come to symbolize the state's bounty, such as ginseng and cranberries. In the early 21st century, Wisconsin's largest agricultural export destination by far has been Canada, followed by Mexico, China and other nations. Farmers who rely on exports face uncertainties driven by fluctuating international demand, variable commodities markets and shifts in global politics, including an escalating series of tariffs levied between the United States and some of its closest trading partners. These changing conditions have impacts that ripple across the state’s broader agricultural economy.More
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