Legislative Update: October 7

This Just In: The governor has announced the 2019 Capitol Christmas Tree theme. It’s CELEBRATE SCIENCE.

The Senate will meet Tuesday, taking up the minority teacher loan program, a bill expanding the information schools can release as ‘directory data,’ one about school emergency drills, and a proposal on out-of-state teacher license reciprocity.

  • Minority Teacher Loan Program. (AB 51/SB 55). Provides for statewide expansion of a program offering loan forgiveness for minority teachers who teach in schools that have at least 40 percent minority students. Right now, only teachers in Milwaukee schools are eligible for the program. Already passed Assembly.
  • Pupil Records (SB57 AB53). Expands pupil information allowed to be disclosed by a public school to include the names of parents or guardians. Under current law, the information that may be included in “directory data” that may be disclosed to any person (as long as a public school notifies families of the categories of information and informs families an opt out procedure) includes pupil name, address, telephone, date/place of birth, major field of study, activity/sport participation, attendance dates, photographs, weight and height as member of athletic team, degrees/awards, and most recent school attended. Local school districts retain the right to determine what is considered directory data, choosing to include all, some or none of the categories.
  • Safety Drills. (AB 54 / SB 56) Under this bill, the person having direct charge of the public or private school may provide previous warning of any of these drills if he or she determines that providing previous warning of the drill is in the best interest of pupils attending the school. Currently, no advance notice is allowed. Already passed Assembly.
  • Out-of-State Teacher License Reciprocity (AB 195 / SB 184). Would change the way a person who has been educated and licensed to teach out of state can become licensed to teach in the state of Wisconsin. This bill would continue to allow a person who is educated and licensed out of state to begin teaching in Wisconsin with a 1 Year License with Stipulations. After two successful semesters, that person would then be eligible for a License Based on Reciprocity. Furthermore, this bill would move the License Based on Reciprocity to a Tier II Provisional License. Already passed Assembly.
  • School Board Meeting Notice (SB 160 / AB 170). This would change the way that school board meetings can be noticed. Notably, it provides that, “if a school district clerk or, in the clerk’s absence, the school district’s president determines that providing notice at least 24 hours before the meeting is, for good cause shown by the clerk or president, impossible or impractical, the clerk or resident may notify each school board member of the date, time, and place of the meeting less than 24 hours, but not less than 2 hours, before the meeting.”
  • Teacher Prep (AB-232 / SB 230). This bill would allow flexibility for student teaching hours, so that aspiring educators could spread the required hours out over a longer period of time. Most students and must work while enrolled in school, so the bill would allow them to continue earning while student teaching. The bill also benefits paraeducators, who could continue their work with students while fulfilling their student teaching responsibilities. WEAC has registered and testified in favor of this bill. 
  • Human Trafficking (AB22 / SB 25)Establishes industry-specific materials on the recognition and prevention of human trafficking for use in the instruction in driver education courses that provide instruction in the operation of commercial motor vehicles. This will affect new drivers only.

To contact your elected officials on any of these issues, use the “Find Your Legislators” link at www.weac.org/take-action

“Blue Ribbon” bills
The Senate and Assembly Committees on Education held a joint public hearing last week on a series of bills created as a result of the Legislature’s Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding. The bills were generally supported, but it’s not certain if they will move in committee or how they would be funding. The proposals were part of the governor’s original 2019-21 budget bill but pulled out of the proposal by the Republican legislative majority. WEAC has not taken a formal position on the bills, having no opposition to the proposals.

It’s a key time to contact your elected officials on the bills, so click here to see the full slate of bills and email the Senate and Education committees. 

Legislative Dems announce priorities
Wisconsin legislative Democrats have announced their legislative priorities for the remainder of the 2019-20 legislative session. Their agenda, called “Forward Together.” Included in their priorities are:

  • Increase special education funding
  • Fair funding for rural schools
  • Expand access to early child education and full day 4K
  • Make college affordable
  • Address student local debt
  • Strengthen workforce development programs at technical colleges
  • Replace lead pipes
  • Raise the minimum wage
  • Increase access to affordable child care
  • Broaden paid family leave options
  • Ensure equal pay for equal work
  • Secure retirement

Retirement Security 
On the heels of Governor Tony Evers’ appointment of State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski to lead the Wisconsin Retirement Security Task Force, the Legislative Reference Bureau has released, “Retirement Security in Wisconsin.” 

Dyslexia Bills
The Dyslexia task force released recommendations earlier this year, and there’s one Assembly bill, AB-110, that has been introduced which would require the development of a guidebook related to dyslexia and related conditions. We’ll keep you posted on any additional developments.

American Indian Studies
With the start of a new school year, WEAC President Ron “Duff” Martin has been a frequent guest in member classrooms to share Native American history and stories. It’s a good reminder to check out a series of bills that were introduced earlier this session:

  • American Indian Studies (AB-105). Model academic standards for American Indian studies.
  • American Indian Instruction (AB-106). Informational materials related to a school board’s obligations to provide instruction on American Indians.
  • American Indian Studies (AB-107). The American Indian studies requirement for teacher licensure.
  • Private School American Indian Instruction (AB-108). Requires private schools participating in a parental choice program and independent charter schools to provide instruction in American Indian history, culture, and tribal sovereignty.
  • American Indian Instruction (AB-109). Requires instruction in American Indian studies in the elementary and high school grades.

Find all the bills we’re watching at www.weac.org/bills