Educators and future educators deliver 37,500 signatures on petition supporting high teacher standards

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UW-Student and aspiring teacher Briana Schwabenbauer speaks at the news conference.

UW-Madison students and aspiring teachers Allyson Craft and Briana Schwabenbauer were joined Wednesday by other students and current educators – including WEAC President Betsy Kippers and Vice President Ron Martin – in delivering 37,500 signatures on a petition calling on the Legislature and Governor Walker to “keep Wisconsin schools strong by promoting high standards for all of our educators.”

The petition is in response to legislation inserted into the state budget by the Joint Finance Committee that dramatically lowers teacher quality standards by lowering requirements for obtaining a teacher license. It would put Wisconsin at the bottom nationally, below states with the lowest student achievement levels.

At a news conference at which the petition was delivered to legislators and the governor, Kippers said every child should have a caring, qualified and committed teacher with a solid background in how to teach, along with what to teach.

“Low standards will NOT provide students with better-qualified teachers,” she said.

“As a teacher myself for over 30 years, representing tens of thousands of Wisconsin licensed teachers who work with students every single day, I am deeply offended at the idea that just about anyone can walk into a classroom and effectively teach. Would we lower standards for our doctors, dentists or lawyers?

“When schools have difficulties filling positions, Wisconsin already offers different paths to become a teacher that still meet the requirements of the licensure law. The flexibility is there, but so is the quality standard. Our students deserve that. But this half-baked idea hidden in the state budget doesn’t solve the real problem – adequate funding that allows schools to find and keep the best teachers.

“Already, statewide voucher schools that get millions in tax subsidies have fewer quality standards – and public schools outperform them. At a time when we’re demanding more from our students and schools, why would we settle for lower teacher quality?

“This ridiculous idea has touched the hearts and souls of current, retired and future teachers. We stand proud to demonstrate our skill and ability to teach children. High standards are not a barrier. They are a moral obligation.”

Comments by WEAC President Betsy Kippers:

Comments by UW-Madison student Briana Schwabenbauer: