Legislative Update – November 22

Governor Tony Evers this week signed a bill (AB 51/SB 55) to expand the minority teacher loan program statewide. The program offers loan forgiveness for minority teachers who teach in schools that have at least 40 percent minority students. The expansion will make the program available in about 25 school districts or at tribal schools in high-demand fields such as special education, math or bilingual teaching. Before this change, only teachers in Milwaukee schools were eligible for the program.  

Evers vetoed the pupil  records bill (SB57 / AB53), which would have expanded pupil information allowed to be disclosed by a public school to include the names of parents or guardians. WEAC issued an action alert when this bill was introduced last spring, cautioning this would jeopardize family privacy and further open the doors to aggressive marketing campaigns by unaccountable private voucher schools. 

Bills We’re Watching 
See all the bills we’re watching at www.weac.org/bills  

  • Cursive Writing Mandate (AB 459 / SB 414)  A public hearing was held this week on the senate version of this bill to incorporate cursive writing into the state model English language arts standards and require cursive writing instruction in elementary grades. The Assembly held a hearing on the bill earlier this month, which is estimated to cost $6 million to implement if passed. 
  • Seclusion and Restraint (SB 527). This bill received a public hearing this week. The bill would require school districts to pass along the number of incidents of seclusion or restraint incidents to the state Department of Public Instruction. 

On the Governor’s Desk: 

  • Voucher Program  (SB-495 / AB-554). This would make minor changes to deadlines for statewide private voucher school applications. This includes accepting applications from the first weekday in February and end on the third Thursday in April, instead of stipulating February 1 to April 20, and report the number of applicants to the DPI by the first weekday in May, instead of May. Additionally, the bill would change language for the Milwaukee, Racine and statewide voucher programs to require an annual “notice” from an accrediting entity, rather than a “letter.”  
  • Suicide Prevention Grants  (SB 498 / AB 525). This bill requires the Department of Public Instruction to establish a competitive grant program to award grants up to $1,000 (with renewals for up to three additional years) to support peer-to-peer suicide prevention programs in public, private, and tribal high schools.   
  • Student identification cards.  (SB 496). Requires elementary, secondary, and post-secondary educational entities to include suicide prevention information on student identification cards beginning in 2020.