Plummeting teacher pay, introduction of background checks lead WEAC’s most-read stories of 2019

Wisconsin educators turned to WEAC in 2019 for expert information on trends that impact our profession, with a story on average teacher pay dropping to 33rd in the nation coming in as our top-read story of the year. Here’s a run-down on the top 10 stories that caught your eye in 2019:

  1. Wisconsin teacher salaries drop to 33rd in nation. Wisconsin educators voiced significant concerns in March 2019 about the decline in educator compensation after a national report showed we dropped from 18th in the nation for average teacher salary in 2010-11 to 33rd in 2017-18. Read more.
  2. Lifetime license background check application available. WEAC provided members with immediate access to the first-ever background check application for teachers with lifetime licenses in January 2019, alerting you that failure to complete your background check when it’s due would invalidate your lifetime license. Read more.
  3. Spotlight on Locals. The Elmbrook Education Association was one of the first to be highlighted in January 2019 as part of our Spotlight on Locals series. “In the current climate, some of our educators are uncomfortable speaking up about issues that affect students, and they understand that their voices can be channeled through us,” one local leader said. Read Elmbrook’s story, and see all our 2019 Spotlights here.
  4. Is your background check due in 2020? WEAC provided expert guidance to educators, along with a direct helpline to members, in December 2019. More than 1,000 educators took our advice to check the status of their background check for their teaching license to keep their careers on the right path. Read more.
  5. Governor supports educators in his first Budget Address. Governor Tony Evers in February 2019 unveiled a budget that would increase state funding of public K-12 schools and require teachers receive preparation time, in addition to calling for higher educator pay. His budget was scaled back by legislative Republicans before being signed into law in July 2019. Read more.
  6. Three dozen WEAC members are Kohl Foundation Teacher Fellows. WEAC praised our members for achieving this honor in March 2019, with WEAC President Ron Martin noting they were selected based on their ability to inspire a love of learning in their students, their ability to motivate others, and their leadership and service within and outside the classroom. Read more.
  7. There is no room for hate. The Baraboo Education Association sent a strong message in February 2019 after a widely criticized photo of students who appeared to make a Nazi salute went viral. “Our response as a union had to acknowledge the world’s shock and distress, but also needed to be a visible message in our school buildings,” one leader said. Read more.
  8. Governor: We must demonstrate we value teachers. In an October 2019 column, Governor Tony Evers wrote Wisconsin must do better in demonstrating that it values its teachers. “We must … recognize that part of supporting our kids in the classroom means supporting the educators who teach our kids. Wisconsin pays our public school teachers less than the national average, which makes it harder to recruit and retain talented educators.” Read more.
  9. 59 school referendums on ballot. 59 school referendums totaling nearly $1.2 billion were outlined in this February 2019 article. They were on top of more than $2 billion in referendums approved by voters in 2018. The largest referendum on the April 2019 ballot was $164 million for a new high school in Sun Prairie. 75 percent of the referendums were approved. Read more.
  10. Dueling middle-class tax plans. In February 2019, Governor Tony Evers formally announced the middle-class tax cut plan he campaigned on, while Republicans passed their own proposal through committee along party lines. The standoff was a sign of the gridlock to come throughout the legislative session. WEAC kept you up-to-date throughout the year with our Education Advocacy Updates. Sign up for updates in 2020, and  read more here.